Leading Tech For Good! Know How This Foundation Is Empowering Rural Women & Youth Through Technology

Image Credit: NASSCOM Foundation

Leading Tech For Good! Know How This Foundation Is Empowering Rural Women & Youth Through Technology

Unemployment has been an existing issue in the country for a very long due to a lack of skills among the people and opportunities. To tackle the problem, NASSCOM Foundation was founded in 2001 to empower women and youth through technology.

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The issue of unemployment among the youth population in India has existed for a long. Pre or post-pandemic, several reports keep highlighting the massive skill gap and the lack of a comprehensive curriculum in the education system. At the same time, equipping women with employable skills is a far more significant challenge than skilling men, as most women in India work low-skill and low-paying jobs in the informal economy.

It is a gap that needs to be addressed urgently, as skilling can expand work opportunities for women and youth and increase their participation in the workforce. According to 2021 data from the World Bank, only 43 per cent of India's working-age population has a job, and the figure is lower than that of Bangladesh at 54 per cent. Even countries like Pakistan do better than India at 48 per cent.

To tackle the prominent issue, NASSCOM Foundation was founded in 2001 to work toward unlocking the power of technology for social and economic transformation. Rooted in the philosophy of 'Tech For Good,' the foundation focus on several critical areas of intervention - Digital Literacy, Skilling and Employability, and Women Entrepreneurship.

The CEO of NASSCOM Foundation, Nidhi Bhasin, while talking with The Logical Indian, said, "In the past few years, technology has emerged without a doubt as the bedrock of inclusive growth. It has created ACCESS – our delivery mechanisms today are more robust, inclusive, and effective in creating a social impact for a far larger audience, right to the last mile."

Programs By NASSCOM Foundation

To impart digital skills to increase the self-reliance and resilience of communities, in line with the National Digital Literacy Mission, the Nasscom Foundation has a learning management platform DigiSaakshar, which enables self-paced, instructor-led, and hybrid learning models. The foundation works in three main areas: digital literacy, skilling, and employability and entrepreneurship for women.

Through Digital Literacy, the greater focus is on empowering the marginalised communities, especially in the rural areas and aspirational districts. The primary tool for imparting Digital Literacy is the learning management platform Digisakshar. According to the foundation, the entire program has evolved and grown tremendously in the last few years; before the pandemic, 70 per cent of the beneficiaries in digital literacy programs were men; however, now, more women are coming forward to learn digital skills – with 60 per cent participation coming from women.

While commenting on the skilling and employability area of its function, the foundation said, "Skilling is one of the most critical aspects of a nation's economic growth and at NASSCOM Foundation, we believe all efforts towards skilling need to be inclusive and focussed on enabling livelihood opportunities." Its 'Skills Initiative' program works through a spherical lens with skilling, employability and placements as the fundamental aspects, especially for the youth from tier 2 and tier 3 colleges across India. More than 2,35,000 people have benefitted from the skilling programs.

Lastly, NASSCOM Foundation also runs a Women Entrepreneurship program which aims at building livelihood opportunities for existing women entrepreneurs with a specific focus on women agri-preneurs, women artisans, and women owners of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), especially in rural areas, by enabling access to technology and digital skills.

The program upskills women entrepreneurs by training them in digital and financial literacy and entrepreneurial skills, equipping them with essential skills for their business growth. In 2021, NASSCOM Foundation impacted 5,00,000 lives through digital literacy programs, and women were the primary beneficiaries (about 75 per cent).

The foundation said, "Today, 63 per cent of beneficiaries across all our programs are women. Women benefit tremendously as technology enables them to make the journey from digital literacy to entrepreneurial skills a reality. Other than benefitting from our programs on Digital literacy and skilling, we also have some dedicated programs that help upscale and sustain women entrepreneurs."

According to the purpose-driven not-for-profit, several initiatives have been escalated in the public domain in collaboration with top-class organisations like Google.org, American Express, and DXC Technologies. Through a tie-up with these companies, NASSCOM Foundation aims to empower rural women with digital literacy, skills, and capabilities.

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Editor : Shiva Chaudhary
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