Gender has been an important lens through which we examine all our work throughout the years, though never a central subject of it.
Our survey work has enabled us to measure the gender gaps in access, use and ownership. Our qualitative work has enabled deeper understanding of the underlying barriers and social context which contribute to the gender gaps and disparities that we see in the data. It has also enabled us to explore beyond the binary conception of gender, to gain more nuanced understandings of the challenges and opportunities that digital technologies bring about for gender minorities.
Through this cross-cutting theme, we try to measure and understand marginalization in technology access and use that can be attributed to gender.
This working paper explores the effect of gender on the likelihood of internet access and the likelihood of possessing digital skills capabilities among Indians and Sri Lankans, based on nationally representative survey data from 2021.
The technological advancements of the recent decades, including the expansion of the gig economy have given rise to increasing numbers of opportunities for flexible work for both men and women across the globe. Opportunities range from ridesharing to online freelancing to running home-based businesses with the help of social media and logistics platforms. The growth in opportunities for digital work have expanded considerably after the advent of the Covid-19 Pandemic. Flexible work arrangements – such as those offered by the gig economy—have long been argued as an enabler of women’s increased and sustained participation in the labour market. This is particularly pertinent for countries like Sri Lanka, which have tussled with low female labour force participation (LFP) rates over the years. Many have argued that these opportunities are especially advantageous for women, enabling flexibility in terms of time, location, and the conditions of work, allowing for greater LFP and wide opportunities for socio-economic empowerment. This paper seeks to explore the impact that such opportunities are having on women’s empowerment in Sri Lanka.
We know from our previous qualitative work that women see online work and the flexibility it entails as a way to earn their own income while balancing childcare and other domestic responsibilities. However, many barriers and challenges remain to women’s participation in the online workplace, including gender gaps in internet connectivity and digital skills, as well as constraining social norms. To better understand women’s engagement with the ecosystem of digitally enabled work, between 2020 and 2023 we conducted further qualitative research in collaboration with the Centre for Policy Research, India, the Indian Institute for Human Settlements and World Resources Institute, India, and. The research aimed to assess the ecosystem within which women are engaging with digital work in India and Sri Lanka and the kind of impact that online platforms can create for women’s economic empowerment in order to inform updated labour market regulation and business practices. The final project report can be found below. Suggested citation: Centre for Policy Research, LIRNEasia & Indian Institute for Human Settlements. (2022). Ecosystems of Engagement: Digital Platforms and Women’s Work in Sri Lanka and India. https://lirneasia.net/wp-content/uploads/2023/08/Ecosystems-of-engagement-Digital-platforms-and-womens-work-in-Sri-Lanka-and-India.pdf
Ramathi Bandaranayake presented the following paper at the 3rd International Conference on Gender Research, held July 16 – 17 2020. The conference took place virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The paper discusses the findings of our qualitative research related to female online freelancers in India and Sri Lanka. Bandaranayake, R., Iqbal, T., Galpaya, H., Senanayake, L., & Perampalam, S. (2020). ‘Now we are Independent’: Female Online Freelancers in India and Sri Lanka. In K. Jones, C. Collins, M. Davies, M. Della Giust, & G. James. Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Gender Research (pp. 40-47). Reading, UK: University of Reading. DOI: 10.34190/IGR.20.121
Presented by Helani Galpaya, Ayesha Zainudeen and Tharaka Amarasinghe on 22 May 2019 in Colombo, Sri Lanka
AfterAccess: ICT access and use in Asia and the Global South (Version 3.0)
Presented at “Imagine a Feminist Internet: South Asia” on 21 February 2019 in Negombo, Sri Lanka
Presented by Gayani Hurulle at Myanmar Digital Rights Forum. 18 January 2019, Yangon.