Centre for Internet & Society

Abhishek Sekharan, Chiara Furtado, and Ambika Tandon contributed an essay on gender and collective bargaining in the platform economy in India, reflecting on the experiences of women beauty workers who organised India’s first women-led movement of platform workers. The essay has been published as part of an online collection of essays from contributors across the world and has been curated by the Digital Future Society Think Tank (Barcelona, Spain).

In October 2021, women beauty workers from Urban Company (UC), India’s premier platform providing at-home personal services, organised outside their head office in Gurugram to protest their unfair working conditions and lack of social security. Among their demands were the need to reduce and stabilise exorbitant platform commissions, remove arbitrary workforce management practices, reinstate control over working hours, and develop effective grievance redressal and support helplines to aid workers’ safety.

This was a first-of-its-kind resistance led by women workers in India’s booming platform economy. Many of the demands put forth by these workers are reflective of issues that commonly impact women’s labour force participation.

Women face considerable entry barriers in the platform economy, which is reflected in their low participation in ride-hailing and delivery — sectors that engage a majority of the gig workforce (ILO 2021). Instead, women are predominantly employed in historically feminised sectors such as domestic work, healthcare services, beauty work, and online tutoring.

Click here to read the full essay.

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