Reliance Jio and GSMA have announced the national roll-out of their Digital Skills Program, a joint initiative under the broader GSMA Connected Women Commitment initiative. The program aims to provide need-based training to rural women and individuals from marginalised / low-income groups to help them make meaningful use of digital access.
As per the GSMA’s Mobile Gender Gap Report 2022, women in India are 41 per cent less likely than men to use mobile internet. A total of 330 million women in India still do not use mobile internet, compared to 248 million men. Lack of literacy and digital skills is one of the top reported barriers to mobile internet use.
As a part of this program, the GSMA and Jio teams worked together to assess prevalent digital skill gaps and develop need-based digital skills training toolkits that are India-specific. The toolkits were designed post extensive field research and user feedback. Over 1,000 rural women and men from Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu participated and provided inputs for the refinement of the digital training toolkits during the trial phase.
The national roll-out phase is now underway, with the program being rolled out across 10 states with a focus on reaching women and marginalised groups. Reliance Foundation will be supporting the rollout through its large network and self-help groups, particularly in rural areas.
Commenting on the occasion, Isha Ambani, director, Reliance Jio, said, “Mobile technology has the power to empower women, making them feel more connected, independent, and secure, and providing them with access to important information that helps them in their daily lives. We are proud to partner with GSMA in this program to take digital skills training to the women across India and be the wind beneath their wings.”
Meanwhile, Mats Granryd, director general, GSMA, said, “Mobile technology has the potential to positively contribute to protecting women’s human rights and to strengthen their economic, social, and political empowerment and development. But more needs to be done to ensure women are not being left behind in an increasingly connected world. We are excited to partner with Jio and Reliance Foundation to take the Digital Skills Program national and help accelerate digital inclusion for women.”
Over the next few months, both Jio and Reliance Foundation will be focusing on scaling up the program.