A unique project is empowering women in rural Assam
Nizara Talukdar, in her mid 30s, is just another village woman in Assam who has grown up in poverty. But the times seem to have changed, as she has started to earn more through her innovative ideas, thanks to the Internet Saathi (Internet Assist) programme being implemented in various areas of Assam. The Internet Saathis are educated village women who are provided training and given smartphones and a bicycle to carry out their activities.
Talukdar is a weaver in a village in Assam’s Baksa district, a part of the Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD). Over the years, she has been following the same old designs that she inherited from her mother and other elders. But she failed to draw the attention of customers. Now she can download creative designs from the Internet, which has enhanced her sales as well, with the guidance from the Internet Saathis. Now, she has increased her income by 30 % to 40 %.
Not just Talukdar – there are many women in Assam’s rural areas whose lives have been changed with the influence of the Internet.
The Internet Saathis came into the scene in March 2016. Armed with tablets and smartphones, these women roamed the villages on their bicycles, trying their best to influence village folk. The Internet Saathi Project is being implemented by Gramya Vikash Mancha in Nalbari, Kamrup (rural), Barpeta, and Baksa districts of Assam. The Internet Saathi Project is a joint Initiative of Google and Tata Trust.
“It was quite difficult to start with, as most of the women are from very poor families and illiterate. So, they did not have any idea about smartphones or the Internet. Initially, they used to shy away from us when we approached them,” Pranita Das, one of the Internet Saathis operating in Baksa district.
Das has already taught the usage of Internet to more than 12 women in villages. They have been able to attract the young girls of the village. So far, 160 Internet Sathis have touched the lives of more than 1,00,000 village women. Some of the women are also helping their husbands in their respective fields after learning tips from the Internet.
“It is to increase the level of awareness about the Internet among the rural women, build the leadership capacity of the women, and empower them to access and avail entitlement rights. We also want to empower the women to access the information from markets selling and buying products and thereby enhance their level of income,” Chakraborty told.
Source: The Better India
Photograph: © Unsplash