News | 30 August 2016

Facebook challenge promises to bring Indian women online, but safety is a concern

This article was written by Aamna Mohdin and originally appeared on the Analysis blog

Facebook recently visited India to host the first summit for its non-profit initiative that it is spearheading with a coalition of technology companies in the hope of widening internet access in developing countries. [1] During the visit Facebook announced an ‘innovation challenge’ which will award US$25,000 to the developer of the best app, website or online service targeted at four marginalised groups in India — one of which is women.

But will such innovations really help get more Indian women online?

I spoke to Shivani Gupta, a programme associate for the Delhi-based non-profit organisation Feminist Approach to Technology (FAT). She says providing tools to facilitate internet access is a step in the right direction, but there needs to be significant investment in education to teach particular groups of women how to operate safely online.

“There’s a web of knowledge they’ve never had access to, so when they access the internet it’s like being on another world all together,” Gupta explains.

There are several reasons why some Indian women do not have access to the internet. Gupta works with women living in open slums in east Delhi, and there she says women are often prohibited from using technologies by brothers or fathers, and mostly access the internet from phones or laptops under their supervision. Gupta says some of this stems from a desire to control women, though it is also partly motivated by worries that women might develop inappropriate relationships online that could put them in danger – See more at:

Photo by user elyse patten on Flickr.