The internet has become a vital part of our daily life. From education, entertainment and news updates, to online shopping and getting traffic updates, its uses are far and wide. But the most vital use is to create awareness regarding various social issues. Women in India, are yet to catch up with the digital revolution.
A 2015 report by the Boston Consulting Group and Retailers Association of India, pegged the percentage of women internet users in India at 29%. It said the remaining 71% were men. They believe that by 2020, this share will grow to 40 percent.
Increasing access to the digital medium, women will have more access to information. This will help create awareness among women regarding their rights.
Social Media is giving Women a Voice
Internet gives women access to social media platforms, where they can share their stories and struggles, and also seek help. Comedians, male and female alike, are using digital entertainment platforms along with humour and satire, to talk about taboos like marital rape, sexual abuse and feminism in the open.
Internet is making women prone to cyber crime.
Poor awareness is leading women into the traps of various financial scams. Sexual predators masquerading as friends, are openly scouring social media platforms for victims. This has led to a bit of hostility towards the medium among women, irrespective of class and education. We all have heard and witnessed stories of harassment at the hand of internet trolls from around the world. How then, in such times, Indian women can be encouraged to not be afraid of using the internet?
Understanding Virtual Safety
Government and technology giants are taking initiatives to give women internet access and education. Similarly, they should take initiatives to educate women about virtual safety. Cybercrime units should spread awareness regarding scams and trolls.
They should also encourage women to report cybercrimes, with an assurance to keep their identity and dignity safe. Many social media platforms have realised the crisis faced by women, and are introducing measures to safeguard the personal information.
With these measures and a little presence of mind, women can use the internet without having to worry about their safety. For women of the world to be empowered our voice needs to reach as many people as possible. Hence, internet accessibility plays a vital role in it. Internet is the baton in our rally for empowerment. Every educated internet user should find an uneducated one and pass on this baton to her. Helping each other gain virtual freedom will bring us closer to attaining equality in the real world.
Dr Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are author’s own.