The event was an attempt to convene a dialogue around the core issues of India’s platform economy and its role in improving women’s labour market outcomes.
[Welcome Address]: Prof. Farzana Afridi, Head of DP-WEE set the context of the event emphasizing on the core issues pertaining to India’s labour market and women’s participation. She highlighted that with lower wages for women and existing socio-cultural barriers to women’s labour force participation, the need of the hour is not just jobs but good jobs for women Video.
She further contended on the emergence of platform economy in India, its potential to enhance workforce participation and role of women in it. According to ILO, India is emerging as the largest supplier of global labour in online platforms and India has the third largest number of online platforms with a very high capacity for generating jobs she further added.
[Project Overview and Presentations]: The team members provided an outline of the research studies ongoing under the Project. Dr. Kanika Mahajan (Assistant Professor, Ashoka University) discussed the role of skilling in enhancing women’s labour market outcomes and its potential in affecting career progression. Dr. Nikita Sangwan (Visiting Assistant Professor, Indian Statistical Institute, Delhi) deliberated on the labour market information and employer-employee matching algorithms on job portals. Ms. Bhavya Gupta (PhD scholar, Jawaharlal Nehru University) explained the labour laws and regulations concerning workers in the platform economy Video
[Panel Discussion]: A dialogue was convened between a panel of experts from research, industry and policy around the core issues. Moderated by Dr Yamini Atmavilas (Udaiti Foundation), the panelists comprised Dr Gayathri Vasudevan (LabourNet), Mr. Ketul Acharya (Independent Consultant), Dr Sakshi Khurana (NITI Aayog) and Ms. Aishwarya Raman (OMI Foundation).
The speakers contended that although platforms do not distinguish among workers of different genders per se, the cost of sourcing female workers is higher, calling for financial incentives for businesses. The panelists further drew attention to the need to close gender gaps in digital and future-relevant skills, and for skilling to work hand-in-hand with job platforms. Given that for platform workers the city is the workplace, it is important to address issues of women’s safety, mobility and access to public toilets. Research and policy ought to consider how to strengthen networking and mentorship among workers and improve their bargaining power vis-à-vis a ‘faceless’ employer.
On portals that match jobseekers and employers, there are challenges such as large volumes of applications and a need to resort to AI for screening, verifiability of candidates, fraudulent job postings, and so on. The panel recommends such job portals to offer integrated end-to-end solutions including say, counseling for job readiness. The experts emphasized the need for generating multidimensional, real-time data on platforms, which can be used to develop newer solutions. They also highlighted the scope for research to gain insights into the potential of platforms for women and contended that DP-WEE can make important contributions in these areas Video.
[Concluding Remarks]: Dr. Sabina Yasmin (Senior Research Fellow, LEAD at Krea University) shared her valuable insights in conclusion to the event. She highlighted the pertinence of the issue and its relevance in bridging the gap in women’s participation in the digital economy Video.
Farzana Afridi (Indian Statistical Institute)
Kanika Mahajan (Ashoka University)
Nikita Sangwan (Indian Statistical Institute)
Bhavya Gupta (JNU)