India has yet again proved that it is a male dominated society and this time it’s about the internet usage in the country. According to a recent survey conducted by Google, among the overall internet users in India, only one-third population with access to the internet are women. In this study titled “Women and Technology”, Google collected data from 828 random women aged from 8 to 55. Among these women, 49% didn’t feel the need to use the internet which was shocking when the internet is slowly becoming an essential part of our lifestyle.
With the rising number of Smartphone users and increasing mobile internet penetrability, accessing the internet is no more a daunting task today. More than 19% of the overall Indian population are actively using the internet whereas 15% of the overall Indians are active mobile internet users. Although, the numbers are encouraging for India as a country, it is important to note that the growth is not even for men and women both.
“In spite of such low numbers as well as lack of abundant knowledge about the benefits of internet among women, there are many who are willing to get online to succeed in life,” according to Sandeep Menon, country head marketing for Google.
Younger women in the group were more willing to use the internet than the older ones. Also, 39% of the non-internet users showed their interest in using the internet soon out of which 46% of non-internet users were in the age group from 18 to 29.
Among the internet users, many are younger, single and students according to the survey. It is also observed from the study that women who have slightly higher incomes are accessing the internet more than those with lesser incomes. However, the non-internet users were older, most of whom were married with children.
Main obstacles Faced by Indian Women While Accessing the Internet:
As per the study, some of these women couldn’t find enough time because of household chores which restricted them using the internet while some feared upsetting their in-laws by spending a lot of time online. Mostly for housewives, it is difficult to find time out of their busy day compared to working women who can access the internet at work.
The majority of Indian women prefer privacy while using the internet. Affordability of internet is also a concern faced by most of the Indian women. This is the main reason why most of the women use Smartphones or visit internet cafes to access the internet which are cheaper as well as more private ways to use the internet today. Besides that, connectivity issues also hinder Indian women from using the internet.
The most convenient way to help more women get online is by encouraging Smartphone usage with better mobile internet accessibility. Using mobile internet on Smartphones is the most feasible mode of accessing the internet today that too from anywhere in the country. With Reliance starting 4G services soon in India alongside the plans of launching a 4G Smartphone priced around $30, women in India have an opportunity to own affordable devices with faster internet connectivity.
Lack of knowledge about using the internet is also one of the major concern presented by respondents involved in the study conducted by Google. Around 42% of the respondents showed concern about not knowing what to do on the internet. Since 2013, Google is trying to encourage internet usage among Indian women to motivate and educated women in India.
Google’s Initiative to Help Indian Women Get Online
In 2013, Google launched an initiative to help women get online with HWGO.com with a goal of helping 50 million Indian women access the internet. The campaign was launched with an idea of boosting the internet reach for women which was mere 30% then among the over internet users in India. Even after one and a half year, only one-third of total internet users in India comprises of women.
The Google initiative got a lot of attention all over social media then after the launch of the official video of “Chulein Aasman” with the support from Farhan Akhtar, an Indian Film Maker. After one and a half year, Google has yet again come up with a new film hash-tagged #TogetherOnline with a vision to motivate young digital natives to encourage their mothers to get online.
According to the report, there are good number of educated women in India who are reluctant to use the internet in spite of proper internet accessibility either due to the fear of being questioned or because of the lack of knowledge on how to use the internet. With this new film, Google is trying to help the mothers get online with the help of their young children to discover a whole new web of information online.
Sandeep Menon, the Marketing Head of Google India, also confirmed at the release of the report that Google is working with different partners in order to spread awareness among women about the benefits of getting online.