Empowerment or Exploitation: Global Perspectives on Women’s Work in the Platform Economy

JustJobs Network recently published the report, 'Empowerment or Exploitation: Global Perspectives on Women's Work in the Platform Economy', which examines the impact of the platform economy on women's work experiences. The report features a collection of essays from various economies, highlighting how platform work frequently results in precarity for women, adversely affecting their well-being and work-life balance.

Anita Gurumurthy and Anuradha Ganapathy contributed to this report with an essay titled 'Fixing Platform Power' that explores the impact of digital technologies on women workers in India and examines whether access to and engagement with these technologies lead to expanded economic choices and livelihood options for women. Viewing platforms as 'architectures' comprising a set of social and economic relationships, they suggest "substantive inclusion" as the core framework to reduce power asymmetries in these platform architectures.

Through qualitative interviews with women farmers, small producers, micro-entrepreneurs, and e-commerce platform owners, Gurumurthy and Ganapathy conclude that cooperatives and social intermediaries provide alternative models that equitably distribute e-commerce gains for women workers. These substantively inclusive platform architectures put women workers' agency and power center-stage. However, with scant regulation of VC-backed platform marketplaces, these gender-responsive platforms cannot feasibly capture an equivalent market share. Ultimately, the state must orchestrate the structural conditions for a gender-just state and economy that ensures freedom from precarity and the economic citizenship of all women.

Read the entire collection of essays here.

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