A gig economy is a free market system in which temporary positions are common and organizations hire independent workers for short-term commitments.
Gig economy can help in process of empowerment of women in India in following ways:
- Gig employment allows part-time work and flexible working hours which allows women to balance their traditional roles (homemakers and care giver) with employment.
- Gig employment complemented by work-from-home (WFH) and technology has addressed the issue of safety during travel and night shifts. Also, new employment opportunities for women in tier 2 and 3 cities have emerged.
- It provides women with on-demand work allowing her join and drop-out of work force as per her own will.
- Gig employment helps women earn extra income, boosted her confidence and gives decision making power all of which are important component of women empowerment.
However, gig economy comes with its own set of constraints such as:
- Gig economy works purely on market principle of demand and supply. It views humans just as another resource. Easily replaceable low skill gig laborers are exploited by employers. There is also lack of certainty regarding availability of work and stability of career.
- Lack of benefits: Flexi-workers usually are not entitled to minimum wages, insurances, PF, retirement plans, paid leave, maternity benefits, etc.
- Pay difference: Permanent employees have a grade-pay plus benefits like travel allowance, etc. Gig workers are paid strictly as per the amount of work.
- Restricted growth: Low skill gig workers cannot move-up the organizational hierarchy and not considered for promotions.
In short term, gig economy can be a step towards increasing female labour force participation and women empowerment. But, in long run, predictable and formal employment with opportunities of upskilling is required.