A new study on the future of work for women in India reveals that alternative arrangements and upskilling in the gig economy can provide women with new and increased opportunities for employment in the formal sector, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic is over. This, the study shows, can help increase women’s participation in the formal sector and the economy.
The study, titled The Impact of COVID-19 and Industry 4.0 on Future of Work for Women, An Insight from Formal Sector in India, suggests that an increase in virtual work during the pandemic has increased the potential for women’s employment in the gig economy. For those who may not be aware, the gig economy refers to the emerging labour market where short-term contracts and freelance work are more prevalent instead of permanent jobs and long-term contracts.
“A boost in the use of digital technology and increased acceptance of virtual working for sales and distribution jobs, could open opportunities for women to enter fields where interactions are managed through apps and phone calls,” the study says.
The study also highlights the key areas which are likely to see such an increase in participation. The health and pharmaceuticals sector is likely to see an increase by 59 per cent, while the electricals and electronics sector and the fast-moving consumer goods sector might see a rise by 44 per cent and 41 per cent respectively. Respondents in the study revealed that adoption of new technology can also lead to a moderate increase in women’s participation in the finance and accounting sectors. Around 73 per cent of the respondents also confirmed that reskilling and skill development programmes can also play a huge role in shaping employment trends in the future.
“The study indeed gives a hope for a better future with more employment opportunities for women,” the UNDP’s deputy resident representative in India, Nadia Rasheed, announced at the formal launch of the study. “However, concerted efforts are needed to understand how new technologies are impacting specific industries and to address challenges facing women in entering or remaining in the workplace.”