Developing Indigenous Women Leaders through Digital Mentorship: Experiences from the GOAL Program, India

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Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

PCF10 Sub-theme: Inspiring Innovations [POSTER] // Critical social and organisational skills are increasingly becoming a desired quality in most of the service sector jobs in India. Personality development, self-improvement and public speaking are now marketed in urban India through several educational enterprises that charge an exorbitant amount of money from the customers. People from rural and marginalised backgrounds often lack the sophistication and confidence to compete with their privileged counterparts in urban India despite having technical and vocational skills. Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) initiated the program Going Online as Leaders (GOAL) —to connect urban volunteers with rural women online to provide them guidance and support in digital skills to bridge the information gap. Initially, the program connected four women from the rural indigenous community with 25 skilled urban women, the program is now expanded to— states. Data comparing the baseline and end-line survey of the program shows that the number of those who want to pursue higher education has doubled. Also, at 26 per cent, the largest number of mentees wanted to work towards establishing digital connectivity and engagement in their communities, a nine per cent increase from registration. Remarkably, there was a 44 per cent rise in mentees who want to do social work showing their aspiration to be the change-makers in their community. // The programme‘s provision of smartphones is a transformative experience for mentees. None of the mentees interviewed had owned a phone prior to GOAL, while their brothers and fathers did. Mentees described that interacting with mentors had enabled them to speak ‘my mind‘, ‘not be shy' and ‘dream big'. They started using WhatsApp, Facebook and YouTube to connect with the larger world. They browse the internet avidly for information, supplement studies, and learn crafts. They also download apps for English translations to karaoke singing. Music, films and serials are routinely sourced online. Mentors have taught them to use technology safely and responsibly. Mentors and trainers observe that the mentees’ ‘quality of conversations’ has improved sharply and that they have learnt to think about themselves’. The GOAL program was adopted by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Government of India and is now being replicated in several states. Using the GOAL program as an example, the presentation will demonstrate how digital technology, with planned programs can bridge the geographical inequalities in accessing education and acquiring skills. // Paper ID 4544

Digital Literacy,Skills Development,Gender,Rural Communities