Labouring Women, Enterprising States – A Research Study on Women, Information Technology and Narratives of Entrepreneurship

This research study, carried out by IT for Change in partnership with Dr. Lisa McLaughlin, Associate Professor from Miami University, Ohio (United States), explores the structural-institutional facets of the relationship between women entrepreneurs, ICTs, and the mainstream discourse on entrepreneurship. The research study was carried out between 2010-12, focusing on women entrepreneurs in the two Indian states of Karnataka and Kerala, representing two contrasting ICT ecosystems; the former dominated by big private players, and the latter dominated by a welfarist state. One of the key findings of our research is that for ICT enterprises to fulfill the feminist agenda of empowerment and agency, the notion of enterprises has to be re-conceptualised. So far as the concept of 'ICTs for women's enterprises' remains bound to instrumental approaches, the socio-political agency of women, both as workers and as citizens entitled to economic justice, will not be realised. The research also pointed to the need for women's civil society organisations to play a key intermediary role in enabling women to effectively harness the economic empowerment possibilities opened up by the emergent techno-social paradigm, going beyond the 'ICTs-as-tools' approach.

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