FoWiGS: A Network on Digital Innovations and the Future of Work in the Global South

A number of forces are currently reshaping traditional employment and, more generally, the nature of work. First, advances in artificial intelligence, in combination with modern robotics, are threatening to automate jobs that were previously considered too complex for non-human execution. A related trend is the emergence of online labour platforms that allow employers to contract work to freelancers globally. Estimates indicate that there are approximately 60 million workers in the digital economy in the Global South.

In combination with trade liberalization and the exponential growth in connectivity infrastructure worldwide, online platforms are aggravating employment insecurity by favouring piecemeal outsourcing to independent contractors over long-term formal employment. On the other hand, evidence also points to concentrated benefits among groups lagging in traditional labour markets such as women, racial minorities, and youth.

There is currently little understanding about the effects of technology (notably automation and digitalization) on the nature of work or its long-term implications for development. More research is urgently needed to better assess the risks and opportunities that these trends present to workers in the Global South.

The proposed research network on the Future of Work in the Global South (FoWiGS) seeks to help fill this crucial knowledge gap, improve understanding of the impact of digital innovations on the future of work in the Global South, and make policy recommendations to enhance its benefits and reduce risks, particularly for marginalized groups.

Given that the changing nature of work will have different opportunities and risks for men and women, the project seeks to provide thought leaders with a sound understanding of the possible implications of these changes for women and their integration into labour markets. Armed with this knowledge, the network will seek to inform and influence national, regional, and global policy dialogues on the issue, including the G20/T20, the World Economic Forum, and other bodies that have highlighted the future of work as a crucial topic.

Project ID


Project status



30 months

IDRC Officer

Ben Petrazzini

Total funding

CA$ 1,326,800


Networked Economies, Employment and Growth

Project Leader

Hernán Galperin


Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas, A.C.

Institution Country


Institution Website