From bottom-of-the pyramid to top of the platform value chain: developing inclusive platform models for women workers in the Global South
Women’s labour force participation in India is just 26% as of 2018, and it appears to be in decline. While job losses have been happening across India’s economy, they are most pronounced for women. Compounding the lack of opportunities are structural and cultural barriers that limit women’s ability to move freely and safely outside of their homes. Women are burdened with the vast majority of unpaid work at home and on family farms in rural areas.
Digital platforms may provide flexibility and higher incomes that would benefit women workers in both rural and urban areas, but women’s needs should be taken into account in the design of the platform infrastructure. Without intervention, current labour market inequalities will be replicated and entrenched in the future of work. This project explores the emergence of digital platforms as mediators of work opportunities for women in the informal economy in India. It will incubate and test the impact of digital platforms run by social enterprises or cooperatives; create space for women in the informal economy to participate in digital work; and contribute to developing the terms of their work.
The goal is to develop scalable models that allow women better conditions of work on platforms, better access to jobs, and higher incomes. Three functioning platforms owned by social enterprises and cooperatives will be developed, with the capacity and intention to reach 442,000 women across India. The models will be widely publicized in order to be replicated in other contexts. In the long term, this will contribute to a future of work that is more equal and inclusive of women, and that creates opportunities for informal workers.