Farhan Akhtar wants more women to learn how to use the Internet

Written By Unknown on Rabu, 24 September 2014 | 22.23

MUMBAI: A new social campaign called #ReachForTheSky hopes to help more urban and rural women get online with help from existing Internet users.'

The campaign has been devised by Google in association with the MARD initiative that is the brainchild of actor-director Farhan Akhtar. It hopes to encourage more women to learn to use the Internet - and search engines - and hopefully find gender equality and empowerment along the way.

Farhan said, "MARD is a progressive movement for a more gender-equal world. Our objective is to ask men to re-think their own value system and to be the catalyst for change. Women lack encouragement from family and friends to use the Internet and we need to address this issue. Technology is not the domain of men. Democratising access to information can empower women and raise their status in society."

Rajan Anandan, vice president and managing director, Google India, said, "India is on its way to become the second largest Internet population in the world but usage of Internet amongst women remains lower than most countries. There are 616 million women in India, around half are below the age of 25. Empowering the young female population with information and Internet related tools could transform their future."

Anandan's population statistics cannot be independently confirmed, and he did not cite sources, but he did give a silver lining amid the bleak scenario. "For the first time in India, the growth rate of women Internet users in urban India has exceeded men in the last one year. We need to build on this," he said.

Google's marketing head Sandeep Menon said the mission was to bring 50 million women online. "In the past nine months we have undertaken a number of initiatives reaching over 1 million women across five states, covering 30 cities and 55 small towns. We have approached 950 educational institutes and imparted basic training to over 45,000 girls and 5,000 teachers."

Volunteers who wish to help can visit www.hwgo.in/reach and join as mentors. Internet users can browse www.therealmard.org and pledge support. Hashtag #ReachForTheSky is available across social media platforms.

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