Women are making their presence felt in India’s gig economy
An Indian daily wage worker seen resting on top of bags containing wheat grains after it was auctioned at wholesale grain market. The gig economy gives its female workforce a chance to earn their income from multiple sources including balancing work and domestic responsibilities.Courtesy: Reuters

Women are making their presence felt in India’s gig economy

The gig economy gives its female workforce a chance to earn their income from multiple sources including balancing work and domestic responsibilities as well for those who are married and have children.

Coming close on the back of the data that more than 90 million jobs were ready for the taking in India’s revitalised gig economy comes the added submission that the trend that an increasing number of women are also joining the gig workforce. The gig economy is rapidly reshaping India’s employment eco-system.

The gig economy gives its female workforce a chance to earn their income from multiple sources including balancing work and domestic responsibilities as well for those who are married and have children. Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman made provisions for the welfare of the female gig workforce in her 2021-2022 Union Budget when she stated that women would be allowed to work in all categories of jobs and cover night shifts with adequate protection.

GigIndia, which promotes the concept of the gig economy, witnessed a massive spike of female gig workers during the pandemic. Where the platform was faring with mere 12 percent women out of 5,000 gig-ers in April 2020, participation grew by five times (120 percent) within six months.

Commenting on the role of women in the gig economy, Gayathri Vasudevan, Chairperson, LabourNet Services India said, the next decade will see a complete transformation with new products and services pertaining to social security will be designed for all types of gig workers. “Women will benefit when they belong to such groups. For example, only formal sector workers have access to maternity benefits. There is no question of such benefit among the poor.”

A female worker seen working on a handloom machine to produce fibres. With boundaries blurring in Tier II and Tier III cities, thanks to remote working during the pandemic, the female workforce grew exponentially. Coupled to this was also the fact that there was pay parity.
A female worker seen working on a handloom machine to produce fibres. With boundaries blurring in Tier II and Tier III cities, thanks to remote working during the pandemic, the female workforce grew exponentially. Coupled to this was also the fact that there was pay parity.Courtesy: Reuters

GigIndia which promotes the concept of the gig economy witnessed a massive spike of female gig workers registering during the pandemic. Where the platform was faring with mere 12 percent women out of 5,000 gig-ers in April 2020, participation grew by five times (120 percent) within six months and now, women make up nearly 47 percent of the gig workers. With boundaries blurring in Tier II and Tier III cities, thanks to remote working during the pandemic, the female workforce grew exponentially. Coupled to this was also the fact that there was pay parity.

Agreeing that the pandemic has paved the way for more women to join the gig workforce Sahil Sharma, Co-Founder & CEO, GigIndia told the Economic Times, “The pandemic has fast-tracked the adoption of the gig economy and remote working in India, wherein companies are now comfortable working with a remote workforce which had led to a trend of an increasing number of women joining the gig economy.”

If they can vote, they can work. The change in work models has opened up opportunities for women who are now looking specifically for gig work options.
If they can vote, they can work. The change in work models has opened up opportunities for women who are now looking specifically for gig work options.Courtesy: ANI

The Associated Chambers of Commerce & Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) has predicted that with a compounded annual growth rate of 17 per cent, the gig economy in India will touch $455 billion in the next three years.

The role of the female professional will be valued specially when weighed against the fact that the gig economy has the potential to serve up to 90 million jobs, add up to 1.25% to India’s GDP in the long-run, and create millions of new jobs across all sectors. And given the importance of certain sectors, specially during the pandemic, employment opportunities will keep rising.

Additionally, the change in work models has opened up opportunities for women who are now looking specifically for gig work options.

The Indian government is also pitching in by making public its plans to ensure that the country’s informal workforce would have its own database where millions can be registered. According to a report in Reuters, many of them had struggled to avail of state aid during the pandemic since they were undocumented. In her budget speech Nirmala Sitharaman had stated that approximately $20.5 million would be spent to develop the online register of off-the-books workers, who account for about 90% of India's 450-million strong workforce. “(It) will collect relevant information on gig, building, and construction workers among others," she said. "This will help formulate health, housing, skill, insurance, credit, and food schemes for migrant workers."

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