Conundrums of Capturing Informality: The Realities and Aspirations of Women Gig Workers in India

As part of a knowledge partnership exercise between LabourNet Services and IT for Change under the ‘Re-wiring India's Digitalising Economy for Women's Rights and Well-being’ project, IT for Change conducted a baseline survey of 210 urban informal women workers who are enrolled in LabourNet's skills development program for platform workers. The baseline survey sought to measure various sociological and economic factors that affect women's access to decent work across two cities, Bangalore and Mumbai. Additionally, parameters regarding access to digital and financial technologies were also measured, informing the ongoing LabourNet-ITfC partnership involving the refinement of LabourNet's gig platform, SAHI along the principles of access to decent, sustainable work through a gender-responsive redesign.

The baseline survey revealed that women's ability to work – despite appropriate educational qualifications – is largely impeded by gendered constraints emerging from families and spouses, where they are expected to prioritize care and domestic work responsibilities over paid work. Most women, well-embedded into digitality, aim to enter the job market through gig work, often for the first time, hoping to gain footing in the formal sector eventually. Many women indicate a preference for gig work due to the apparent flexible nature of the sharing economy, hoping to balance both care work and paid work. Focus group discussions reveal that access to decent work and sustainable employment at a fair rate are heavily mediated by women's caste, class, and religion, highlighting the need for an intersectional gender-responsive redesign of SAHI that offers institutional mechanisms that can appropriately address the needs of these urban informal women workers.

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