Despite favorable conditions of economic growth, fertility transition and gains in women’s education, India has experienced low and declining female labor force participation (FLFP). As demonstrated by prior research, barriers to FLFP exist on both the demand and supply side. On the one hand, structural shifts in the economy – from agriculture to manufacturing and services – have not generated adequate ‘good jobs’ for women. On the other hand, women are disadvantaged in terms of skills, information, mobility, and domestic work burden – resulting in higher job search costs.

Building on this work, a new initiative led by Prof. Farzana Afridi seeks to harness digital technology to address multiple constraints on FLFP and improve women’s labor market outcomes. Supported by BMGF (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), the project is housed at CECFEE (Centre for research on the Economics of Climate, Food, Energy and Environment), Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), Delhi Centre and IFMR (Institute for Financial Management and Research).

The rise of job matching platforms and the gig economy have great potential to reduce job search costs and provide flexible work options. While this is expected to benefit women more, there is limited to no gender lens on employment in the sector. Over the next three years, the researchers based at the ISI, Ashoka University and outside India, will partner with job platforms to test solutions in the form of skilling, matching and information interventions, aimed at encouraging women to register on platforms and enhancing their chances of finding suitable work. The initiative strives to create new evidence on what works to raise women’s work participation in India.




Testing whether skilling can encourage young women to participate in the platform economy – and if this, in turn, can foster a sense of empowerment as they make decisions pertaining to marriage, working post marriage, childbearing and occupational choice.

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Examining job search behavior with a gender lens and how expansion of information among women – including correction of beliefs regarding the labor market and work opportunities – can improve their participation and work tenure in the platform sector.

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Exploring the optimal design of matching algorithms on digital labor platforms, to promote greater take-up of this technology on the demand and supply side and generate superior employment outcomes – from a gender perspective.

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