On February 8, 2019, DEF in partnership with Facebook launched GOAL or Going Online As Leaders on the occasion of the ET Women Forum, hosted at Trident Nariman in Mumbai. On this ocaasion, ET Women Forum organised a panel discussion titled ‘The New Leadership Skilling & Mentoring The Next Generation Of Entrepreneurs’ between Kanta Singh of UNDP and Sanchita Mitra of SEWA Bharat. The session was moderated by DEF Founder-Director Osama Manzar. You can watch the video from the panel discussion here. GOAL is a mentorship program empowering young women from tribal regions in India to become leaders of tomorrow.
The idea for this project came from the realisation that females make up for almost 50 per cent of the world population; yet the proportion of women using the Internet is 12 per cent lower than the proportion of men using the Internet worldwide, according to the ICT Facts and Figures 2017 report by the International Telecommunications Union. In fact, only 29% of online users are women in India.
According to the GSMA Mobile Gender Gap Report 2018, women in low and middle-income countries are, on average, 10 per cent less likely to own a mobile phone than men, which translates into 184 million fewer women owning mobile phones. According to the same report, only 19% of Indian women (versus 41% of men) are aware of mobile internet.
Beyond cost, there are several other barriers that restrict women from mobile ownership. These range from traditional literacy and digital literacy to culture, safety and security. Even as Ihe internet has become a force multiplier and leads to social, cultural, behavioural, economic and even political improvements, close to 80% of India is still offline, said a World Bank report in 2016. Only 29% of India’s internet users are women.
We often hear or read in the news that a certain panchayat or religious group has banned the use of mobile phones for women in their region. Many others do not want girls to learn computers. Evidently, the male-dominated society is scared of giving women their independence, right to information and right to speech that often comes with greater awareness that an Internet-enabled mobile phone brings with it. These fears, however, are often buried under the garb of safety, security and culture.
The large exclusion of women, especailly rural and tribal women, from educational, professional and even access to infrastructure opportunities pushes them further into marginalisation. In this societal structure, they forget to dream, to aspire, to voice their opinion or to question any authority.
GOAL of Going Online as Leaders is a digitally enabled mentorship initiative that links young tribal women with successful urban women. The idea is to give young tribal women an opportunity to interact with women who have broken barriers of culture and patriarchy in their ecosystems, even if urban; befriend them as their confidantes; gain confidence from their experienes; and build aspirations of their own.
Under this programme, 25 urban women leaders, who will hold expertise in their respective domains—from business, education and health to politics, arts and entrepreneurship—will inspire, guide and encourage tribal girls to become digitally enabled, confident and aspirational agents of change for their communities. While DEF will provide the girls with funcational digital literacy.