The Internet Dost and Internet Zabardast project is set to train 18,000 rural women across Pakistan to use the Internet and digital technologies to improve their quality of life.
With support from Google.org, these initiatives will aim to bridge the digital divide in Pakistan and educate children about internet safety.
February 9, Islamabad: The National Rural Support Program (NRSP) with the support of Google.org, the philanthropic arm of Google, today launched the ‘Internet Dost and Internet Zabardast’ project in an online event organized as part of Safer Internet Day 2022. With this $475,000 grant, this project aims to contribute to a digitally literate and safe Pakistan.
The Internet Dost and Internet Zabardast project is set to train 18,000 rural women across Pakistan to use the Internet and digital technologies to improve their quality of life. In addition, 25,000 schoolchildren (teens and teenage girls) will be educated on the safe and positive use of digital technology and how to be ‘safe internet explorers’.
Speaking during a keynote address for the digital launch, Shafqat Mahmood, Federal Minister for Federal Education and Skills Training, highlighted the importance of technology during the pandemic.
“As we embrace life online, we have come to realize that the internet is a powerful tool with enormous opportunities for learning, improving skills and gaining new abilities and knowledge, as has been highlighted. evident during the COVID-19 pandemic,” he added. He also reiterated the government’s commitment to bridging the digital divide and providing internet for all.
NRSP CEO Rashid Bajwa while presenting Internet Dost and Internet Zabardast programs said that despite the rapid progress of internet access in Pakistan, especially through the use of mobile internet, which has almost doubled between 2018 and 2020, the digital divide between men and women remains marked. Bajwa emphasized that while closing the digital divide must be a priority in the nation’s efforts to increase internet access, those efforts must also consider the unique or disproportionate vulnerabilities that children and many digitally disadvantaged people can meet on the Internet.
Farhan Quraishi, Regional Director for Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, added, “We are confident that our initiatives will play a vital role in helping women and youth in Pakistan not only acquire digital skills, but also explore the online world safely and confidently”.
Digital launch experts highlighted how governments, development partners, community networks and big tech companies can come together to help women, men and children access and build skills so the dividends can really be harvested for digital technologies.
In his closing address, Shoaib Sultan Khan, President NRSP said a long-term strategy is needed to bridge the digital divide to address the problem of offline inequalities manifesting online.