“You know, the internet has done wonders for my business,” said a lady baker to me, beaming at all the appreciation coming her way from happy guests at a party she was catering.
“How so?” I asked.
“When I started out as a home baker, it was all word of mouth as far as advertisement went and my clientele was limited. Today I have my own Facebook page and my WhatsApp is filled with price requests for customized baked goods.”
We have come a long way since the launch of the internet in India in 1995. By 2021, the count of internet users in India is likely to reach about 635.8 million, of which 40% would be women, according to a recent study. Many of these women, including in rural areas, are taking advantage of the internet to achieve their dreams. What a better day than Women’s Day to show appreciation to such women, who are in sync with the Digital India vision that aims to empower women.
2017 also saw a lot of women lead a global movement of advocacy, activism and support for gender parity through the medium of the internet. Taking cue from the same, the global theme for International Women’s day 2018 is #PressForProgress, which aims to motivate women to think, act and be gender inclusive.
There are many women’s self-help groups online that offer them a platform not just to connect, set up a support network and seek advice but also to conduct e-commerce. Cyber-savvy women are already using WhatsApp to form local groups to carry on home business, including the supply of home-cooked food, samplings, cakes, caregivers and even drivers! The internet has been a blessing to women who are able to pursue their career from home.
There are also forums like Sheroes, Women Web and VAW (Violence Against Women) that work for women empowerment by giving them a voice, and in the case of Sheroes, a second chance at a career. There has also been a rise in synergy between the urban and rural sectors, thanks to the internet. Urban businesswomen are helping to revive dying crafts and traditions in rural communities by taking orders for such products.
There’s more! Women are also using the internet to showcase their talents. The growing count of YouTube accounts sharing music, story-telling sessions, cookery classes, dance and exercise, e-books, and DIY shows are proof to that! Such sharing has given women a new self-confidence and quite a few have already become internet influencers. Let’s see if you can name a few J
Kudos ladies but be aware of the cyber threats that exist, including identity theft, scams, cyberbullying, trolling, malware attacks, ransomware and data theft. Also, a tendency to ignore ‘stranger-danger’ and sharing too much online may lead to consequences in the future.
As we aim to become a responsible netizen, we can impart the same learnings to our kids. Mothers nowadays are leveraging the internet to understand the digital world better so that they can bring up their children to be digital literates. This is fantastic because cyber safety training needs to start at an early age and preferably at home.
As the saying goes, we have to move ahead with the times and adapt to the changing environment. As technology is the way forward, we should strive to adopt it and utilize it to carve out a better future for ourselves.
For that, we should take charge of our digital safety first and foremost
- Device and account security: This is THE most important step for you to protect your data and that of your clients. Secure all your devices with licensed security tools and ensure auto upgrade is turned on. You already know how unsafe it is to use public network so get your own data plan and a VPN connection.
- Double the Security: Two Factor Authentication may sound tedious but this added layer of security will give enhanced protection to you. Activate this for not only social media accounts but also financial accounts.
- Password protection: We all know we must use unique passwords that need to be kept secret. If you are not good at remembering, then consider using a password manager and put an end to all your password woes.
- Account Privacy and Security: Check privacy and security options on your accounts on a regular basis. Revoke access given to 3rd party apps if not in use.
- Profile authenticity: Where there is money, there may be scammers. Always verify details and read reviews before finalizing a transaction.
- Block and report: Most users will be appreciative, but some may not be nice. Learn to accept critical comments but do not submit to cyberbullying. Report such profiles and block them.
Personally, I believe every day is Women’s Day, but marking a particular day as such reminds us of the fact that we are women and we need to take charge of our lives and make it more meaningful. So let’s make the most of the internet and share your inspiring digital stories with other women who are still not on the bandwagon. Cheers!