Centering Workers in the Platform Economy

This baseline report, conducted as part of IT for Change’s broader partnership with LabourNet under the ‘Re-wiring India's Digitalising Economy for Women's Rights and Well-being’ project, aims to provide data-backed, specific recommendations for the development of the SAHI Serve app, recognizing the ecosystem in which it is situated and the specific challenges faced by urban informal women workers. From March 2023 to July 2023, a quantitative survey was undertaken with 291 urban informal women workers who had recently joined LabourNet’s training program. These women were based in four Indian states: Karnataka, Maharashtra, Haryana, and New Delhi. The survey addressed the following themes: the nature of women's participation in the informal economy, respondents’ challenges with care work, their professional and employment-related preferences, their perceptions of the SAHI Serve/app-based gig work, as well as the role of the state in facilitating decent work. Findings included the following: a. Domestic responsibilities and unpaid care work significantly influence the respondents’ access, availability, and preferences for certain types of work. It also affects their entry and exit from the workforce. b. Many respondents expressed interest in working from home, while all were almost evenly split in their preference for full-time, flexible part-time, and flexible full-time work. This indicates the highly diverse contextual environment in which women work, encompassing both their domestic and professional lives, highlighting the need for a model that is responsive to and accounts for this diversity. c. Several respondents also expressed concerns about occupational health and safety, long working hours, and income instability. d. Regarding the use of apps for gig work, the majority reported being comfortable with the idea but had differing views on certain elements, including location-based work, feedback mechanisms, language barriers, harassment, susceptibility to scams, and the misappropriation of personal information.

These insights underscore the need for apps to be co-designed with their intended users. Additionally, there is a general need for extended hand-holding and mentorship of trainees post the training process to familiarize them with the sectors in which they will be situated, as well as the challenges of employment in the informal sector.

The comprehensive report is available for viewing here.

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