The internet can be a liberating but also, a slightly insecure place to be. Everyone has easy access to the world wide web, and there are times when one has to deal with demeaning comments, messages or posts.
In India and world over, women have often been victims of cyberbullying, unwelcome comments, threats etc. If one happens to come across such comments repeatedly, it is natural for them to feel unsafe and get off the platform.
In an attempt to address this issue, the National Commission for Women (NCW) has partnered with Facebook to launch a digital literacy programme. The programme will be launched in collaboration with Cyber Peace Foundation—an organisation that works towards the awareness, counselling and education about the world of internet.
Under the programme, for over a period of one year, 60,000 women from various universities across India will be trained to use the internet, social media and email, safely.
The pilot programme will be held in vernacular languages so it reaches more women and will enable the trainees to know the difference between credible and questionable information. Perhaps, this training will also help them understand rumours and fake messages that get circulated on their WhatsApp and Facebook feeds.
Rekha Sharma, the acting NCW chairperson, said in a statement, “With more women going online, NCW has witnessed a surge in cybercrime related complaints registered at the Commission in the past three years.
This trend is worrying. We have to ensure that while online, women feel safe and secure on the Internet.”
Of course, some may argue that a better solution is to curb cyberbullying and threats on the internet rather than training women to deal with it. While this is unquestionably true; training a whole mass of people to alter their thoughts and actions will take a very long time. Until then, it is essential to empower women to understand how they can deal with hooligans.
Women in significant cities in Haryana, Delhi-NCR, Manipur, Sikkim, Meghalaya, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu will be able to take advantage of the programme. Adding on this, Facebook’s Public Policy Director for India, South and Central Asia said, “Economies can only grow well with equal participation from women, and in today’s age, this can largely happen with the free and unhindered presence of women on the Internet.”
For the aforementioned unhindered presence, it is paramount for women to be able to voice their opinions, share posts and be themselves without being bullied. The programme promises to empower women on the internet and what better collaboration to train them in this than Facebook and the National Commission for Women!
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)