Believe it or not, women only account for one-third of the Indian population with Internet access. That’s a huge increase from 10 years ago. In 2005, 12.32 million women in India1 used the Internet, and today that number has reached 20.77 million2. As Indian communities see the value of empowering women with technology, more women are joining the online world.
While Indian women have more opportunities than ever before to get online, many aren’t taking advantage of it. It saddens me to hear that 49% of Indian women don’t see any reason to use the Internet3. Providing women with access to technology is a first step, but we need to go back to the root of the problem. Because they haven’t had Internet access in the past, many women have formed a mindset that they shouldn’t have access to the Internet, laptops, smartphones and other technologies.
Women in India are starting to have greater access to technology.
Some women in the study said they consider using the Internet a leisure activity — something they don’t have time for when managing the whole household. Others said they worry they’ll anger their in-laws if they spend time online. The good news is that more women would use the Internet if they had more privacy to do so.
The biggest problem is how Indian communities view women and technology: they see technology as something women don’t need, when it should be viewed as integral to their daily lives and happiness. At Meena Bazaar, we’re doing our part to help women get online and have their own online identity. Many of our customers are women, and whenever someone completes a purchase in one of our retail stores, we ask for their cell phone number and email address. A year ago, I noticed many women didn’t have their own email addresses and were dependent on their husbands to send and receive emails.
Meena Bazaar helps women create email accounts when they visit the store.
Now, when a customer visits our store and doesn’t have an email account, we help her create a Gmail account using one of our Chromebooks. It’s a simple solution. If 100 women per day at each of our 50 stores creates a new email account, we can help +100,000 women get online every month. Once they have an email address, these women can catch up with friends, send pictures to family and stay connected with their communities.
While Indian communities truly need a cultural paradigm shift, I’m inspired to see women’s families supporting them in their pursuit of STEM education and entrepreneurship. Every entrepreneur should think about how his or her business can help women achieve their full potential at work and empower them to use technology.
- "Women Internet users on the rise,” The Economic Times, February 2006.
- "Women driving Internet user growth in urban India: IAMAI-IMRB,” The Economic Times, November 2014.
- “Source 49% Indian women see no reason to use internet: Survey,” Times of India, May 2015.
Sameer Manglani, COO, Meena Bazaar
Chromebooks, Culture, G Suite