Google has unveiled "internet bikes" that are to be used to provide basic training on the usage and benefits of the internet to women in rural India. The initiative, dubbed Internet Saathi (Internet Friend), involves the deployment of 1,000 specially-designed internet bicycles to remote villages in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Jharkhand to provide easy internet access to women.
Google says the endeavour, in which Tata and Intel are also participating, will help bridge the technology gender divide in India. Only 12% internet users in rural India are women, according to a 2014 report.
It added that the operator of the bike would be similar to the village postman, who used to be the single point of contact for the village with the outside world both in terms of information as well as communication. The bike would stay in a village for a minimum of two days every week for over a period of four to six months.
It will create awareness and provide adequate training so that rural women are confident of accessing the internet independently. Google plans to reach 4,500 villages covering 500,000 women across rural India over the next 18 months.