This is the third issue paper, written by Anita Gurumurthy, for the Feminist Digital Justice -- a collaborative research and advocacy initiative of IT for Change and DAWN (Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era).
The platform economy -- dominated by a few firms -- is extractivist,exploitative,and expedient. It is based on an unsustainable model with scant regard for natural resources; built on the back of a global division of labor that bears the marks of race, class, gender,and geography. Its lowest segments are feminized – women farmers who keep up the supply of vegetables to all the grocery platforms supplying to cities, women warehouse assistants who work without a pee break, women who do dehumanizingly monotonous work in data centers, women domestic helps whose service you order in like your pizza without really changing the gender division of drudgery. Only some countries have a footing in digital services like cloud computing and digitally deliverable services. Women are hardly present in these sectors.
The Covid-19 crisis has exacerbated these gender-based issues due to its far-reaching impacts on core sectors in developing countries. Predictions in the Asian context show that agriculture, fisheries, food processing, textile, tourism, domestic work, and retail -- all with high female work force participation -- are poised to be the worst affected by the pandemic.
A new social contract, as if women matter, is necessary and possible today. This means ensuring social and economic citizenship for women. Without a new feminist global-to-local pact, we risk putting women into a corner.