India is a developing country and the nation is witnessing progress in a constant way. The advancement & adoption of new technology, along with the support offered by the Government in the form of policies, schemes & programmes are the factors responsible for the development. India has seen a series of new, positive policy launches in the last 10 years, and the Digital India programme is one of those critical policies which came our way. It was launched with the goal of making India a digitally empowered society and today, by many measures, the nation is well on its way to becoming a digitally advanced country. Propelled by the falling cost and rising availability of smartphones and high-speed connectivity, India is already home to one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing bases of digital consumers and is digitizing faster than many mature and emerging economies.

Not just that, but this changing digital landscape is also offering tremendous scope for women’s empowerment in the country. With the passage of time, a number of instances are popping up that shows how technology can transform rural women’s lives while empowering them in all aspect and help them to achieve their dreams. The truth is that women in India have been held back for ages. With the digital revolution owning a device with access to the world beyond their village community is seen as a threat to the overarching patriarchal rule. However, we find, with greater access women all over rural India have started to reap the benefits of the technology revolution, as a range of services and initiatives are enabling women to increase their connectivity and learn how to utilize the internet. Armed with technology and the internet, women are able to develop their own ideas and act on them. This also calls for a greater effort to close the gender gap in digital literacy. Today, Indian women are not just competing hard with the world, while getting involved in all the sector like health, education, agriculture and others. They are moreover, leading in many parts of it. The scenario may not be the same for rural women, but one can neither say that they have less enthusiasm in them in any aspect, as well. They possess strong determination and dedication towards progressiveness. In order to empower their life, they are leveraging the best of Digital India initiative and digital advancement for the next big leap. But how exactly is this happening? Let’s have a look at the different aspects, ways and programmes, in which Digital India is empowering rural women.

Current Digital India initiative provides ample of opportunities for women empowerment. Some of the various fields in which women can actively participate are Broadband Highways, Universal Access to Mobile Connectivity, Public Internet Access Program, e-Governance, e-Kranti, Information for All, Electronics Manufacturing, IT for Jobs, and Early Harvest Programs.

Digitalization is a positive move for Indian women, as now they are more liberated, strong, empowered and contributing to the development of the nation. Digital India emphasizes on the major aspects like sharing of knowledge, IT & Software Jobs, online business, and communication with networking.

  • With the digitalization of libraries and availability of many services now, women are able to rely on the resources which were not available to them earlier, especially being women of rural background with limited access to urban areas and facilities.
  • Information technology services are now shifting to Tier-II and Tier-II cities and providing ample opportunities. Rural women can leverage the opportunity for their and their family’s development.
  • Many women drop their job after motherhood. This is not just the loss of their earnings, but also a great loss to a nation where skilled manpower is still a wide search by all. Online business and sale is the area which is helping women to stay on work without any loss.
  • Communication & networking offers freedom of expression to women. They can now express their thoughts and know their rights as well.

Digital India Initiatives

  • W2E2 - Wireless Women for Entrepreneurship and Empowerment (W2E2) is a programme designed to create women’s microlevel social enterprises based on Information and Communication Technology (ICT). The programme aims to help rural women with digital tools, e-learning, internet connection. The main objectives of this programme are to promote Internet-based social enterprises and entrepreneurship among women as change agents, use the Internet and ICT as a basis for gender inclusion in social and economic empowerment, and boost the women’s traditional skills, helping them reach markets and ensure sustainability. In the current day leveraging this programme some are setting up their own kiosks and shops to provide online services to the local community, while others have taken up work as digital literacy trainers in their own local communities.
  • ArogyaSakhi - The programme is crafted in order to help rural women develop their own personality to providing health care to the rural area. It’s a mobile application that helps rural women entrepreneurs deliver preventive health care at rural doorsteps. Women armed with tablets and mobile healthcare devices like glucometers, blood pressure checking machine visit homes and collect data from the village women. This data can be accessed by doctors at any location who could provide treatment to the patients remotely. Similarly, other apps have been launched to enable farmers to get accurate and timely information related to crops, market prices and analytics to enhance productivity and profitability of farmers.
  • The Amakomaya Project - The project literally means & depicts Mother’s Love. It started with a thought of providing Nepali rural women with lifesaving digital content in their own local language via the Internet. It serves a social cause which is to provide pregnant women during and after pregnancy advice. By this way, it helps reducing population and diseases in newborn children. With the high mobile tapping, the program has expanded with a mobile platform, and it also connects rural health workers with urban-based hospital doctors.
  • Internet Saathi - It is a long term vision of Ratan Tata, Former Chairman of Tata Sons. The initiative aims to go deep with internet usage among rural women in India. To make this happen, Ratan Tata joined hands with Google and Intel to help women in rural India to access the Internet in large number. His vision is - the Internet can help rural women get educated, which as a result will make them ready for the future. Through this initiative, women from villages are trained on using the Internet and are made equipped with data-enabled devices. These women are known as Internet Saathis and work as trainers, to help other women in their village to get started on their Internet journey and benefit from it. As of April 2019, there are more than 81,500 Internet Saathis who have helped over 28 million women learn about the Internet across 289,000 villages.
  • National e-Governance Plan - The Plan provides opportunities to the rural women entrepreneurs for citizen-centric services including access to land records and utility bills payments. This plan helps them to follow up on rural enterprise, facilitate community participations, enable citizens to make informed decisions and act as a single window interface, eliminating the corruption process.

Conclusion

Looking at the aforementioned initiatives & programmes it's clear that being digitally connected can help Indian women in several ways. However, we cannot ignore the fact that these programme can work more effectively only if the factors like literacy, basic infrastructure, overall business environment, regulatory environment, are efficiently developed. A few years back, these were dream only, but now we can now proudly say that the Government of India is doing its best while setting up good grounds for the efficient application of this much-needed programme. Also, it’s a factor to boast as Indian women are developing, so does India.