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Women and Online Work in India: The Opportunities and Limits of Digital Entrepreneurship

December 9, 2021

  Urvashi Aneja, Harsh Ghildiyal, Zothan Mawii, Iona Eckstein


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*The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of IDRC or its Board of Governors. This work was carried out with the aid of a grant from the International Development Research Centre, Ottawa, Canada.


Digital labour platforms have had a significant impact on work and labour markets, creating both a global outsourced workforce, and hyper-local on-demand workers to perform a range of services and tasks.

The impact of digital labour platforms on the Global South has been mixed. On one hand, they create a precarious workforce where workers must contend with fluctuating wages, few safety nets, and poor working conditions. On the other hand, they lower barriers to entry, offer marginally better wages than what may be available in traditional offline markets, and have helped standardise some work processes.

This study focuses on women in India who engage in online work through freelancing platforms and microwork platforms. It uses a mixed method approach to examine the following questions:

* What motivates women to join digital labour platforms?
* What impact do these platforms have on their access to work and financial autonomy? What are their working conditions?
* Do these platforms and digital entrepreneurship enable women’s economic empowerment?

The findings are based on a survey with 365 respondents and 22 semi-structured interviews with women working on online platforms.



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