By Digital Empowerment Foundation
Published on: April 04, 2023
Digital Sarthak is a national digital entrepreneurship and empowerment programme of Digital Empowerment Foundation supported by USAID and DAI. The main objective of the project is to increase the digital capacity of the Women Entrepreneurs and community development organisations in marginalised/ and underserved regions in India by providing them with digital up-skilling support and strengthening their ability to engage on digital and ICT policy issues. Here is a testimonial of one of the beneficiaries of the program.
Aarti is a Woman Entrepreneur from Bharatpur, Rajasthan who shares,“Imagine being locked up in a room for years and having missed all the developments that happen in the world outside the confined room. Imagine people growing up, places changing and society transforming but one being completely unaware of what is happening and why in the world outside. Similar was the case with me and many rural women from our district. We were locked inside the world that our village had shown to us and had a very monotonous life which included doing household chores and taking care of children. What happened outside this, we never knew. But when DEF approached our district, it acted as a key to the locked door and it opened for us a multitude of opportunities in the world outside.
I never knew that a smartphone was something real, but when I held one in my hands I felt empowered without even knowing how to use it. We soon started learning, beginning with communication, applications and location features. But before we were even half way through, I faced judgement and criticism from society. ‘Women can never be at par with the menfolk’, they said continuously. One day I felt that I couldn’t take it anymore and so with extreme frustration replied to them saying, ‘Yes you’re right, women can never be at par with menfolk, they can be better than them’. I think those few lines shut the mouths of many. I kept working towards learning about the smartphone and using it to expand and diversify my business along with other women of my district. Together it felt like we were a team and that no one could break this bond of unity between us.
If women like me want to learn about the phone and approach me, I ask them to imagine. Imagine being trapped in a cage like a lioness where the only option to survive is to get food and the only person that can bring us food is the gatekeeper. Hence, even though we are strong from within, we are still dependent on the keeper. What we need to be is a true lioness, break the cage of stereotypes and hunt for our own food which means to stop being dependent on the society or the family. When women understand their worth, only then can they fight for it.”