Ayesha is a Senior Research Manager at LIRNEasia. Her core areas of interest lie at the intersection of technology and inclusion in the Global South, with a current focus on the future of work. She has over 18 years’ extensive experience in this field, having designed, managed and led numerous research projects in the South and Southeast Asian region for clients such as IDRC (Canada), the World Bank, the Ford Foundation, the GSM Association, the Asian Development Bank, inter alia. In her current research, she is documenting how digital technologies are changing work opportunities and contexts in particular for women in South Asia. She is also mapping online job portals in the Asia Pacific to understand their potential as a data source for near-real-time labor market analytics.
A large part of her focus has been on the demand (or user) side, looking at issues of access, use, and obstacles to the same, particularly among marginalized groups such as low income earners, women, persons with disabilities, etc. Her expertise lies in design, ensuring robust survey design, taking into account practical challenges and factors (for example identifying hard-to-reach target groups, challenges in fielding surveys due to the COVID-19 pandemic, among others). Her experience ranges from several multi-country nationally representative surveys measuring tech access and use patterns among varied groups, to smaller scale qualitative studies focusing on the nuances of, for example how digital platforms offer earning and empowerment opportunities for women in Sri Lanka. Her work is aimed at providing deep insights as well as robust evidence and indicators from the demand side of tech (in particular the marginalized user) for policymaking.
Some of her current and past work includes:
- Qualitative research on the impact that online platforms can create for women’s economic empowerment in order to inform updated labor market regulation and business practices in Sri Lanka for IDRC (Canada) (ongoing).
- Scoping study of online job portals in 12 Asia Pacific countries to understand how online job portals can provide timely insights into labor markets, particularly around events of interest, as a part of a larger project for the Asian Development Bank (ongoing).
- Several nationally representative demand-side surveys across nine countries (Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand) targeting for example groups such as the 15-65 aged population, low income earners, as well as various hard-to-reach sub-groups like persons with disabilities, telecenter users, SMEs, etc. This includes ongoing nationally representative surveys of digital inclusion and the COVID-19 pandemic in Sri Lanka and India.
- Qualitative research on the perceptions of privacy and the experiences of digital harms in Sri Lanka, with a focus on the LGBTQ+ community, involved in research tool development and reporting.
- Design and development of a toolkit for the World Bank Group task team leaders on gender mainstreaming in ICT projects, leading on content relating to the policy and regulatory aspects.
- A joint LIRNEasia-GSM Association Connected Women study on mobiles and Internet use among women in Myanmar in 2015 involving collection and analysis of survey and qualitative data, co-leading the research and report writing.
- An empirical assessment of the impact of mobile communication on migration in the then-recently liberalized Myanmar, using an Instrumental Variable approach.
- Other previous research has included that on the use of mobiles for livelihood-related purposes, the use of telecenters for government information and services, the conditions for mobile commerce applications in low income contexts.
She holds a BSc (hons) in Economics from the London School of Economics and Political Science.