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Platformisation of Domestic Work in India: Report from a Multistakeholder Consultation

On November 16, 2019, The Centre for Internet and Society invited officials from the Department of Labour (Government of Karnataka), members of domestic worker unions, domestic workers, company representatives, and civil society researchers at the Student Christian Mission of India House to discuss preliminary findings of an ongoing research project and facilitate a multistakeholder consultation to understand the contemporaneous platformisation of domestic work in India. Please find here a report from this consultation authored by Tasneem Mewa.

 

Report from the consultation: Download (PDF)

Agenda and details of the consultation: URL


Introduction

On November 16, 2019, The Centre for Internet and Society invited officials from the Department of Labour (Government of Karnataka), members of domestic worker unions, domestic workers, company representatives, and civil society researchers at the Student Christian Mission of India House to discuss preliminary findings of an ongoing research project and facilitate a multistakeholder consultation to understand the contemporaneous platformisation of domestic work in India.

This collaborative project is being led by the the Centre for Internet and Society, India (CIS) together with Domestic Workers Rights Union (DWRU) in Bangalore. The research team comprises of Geeta Menon, Parijatha G.P., Sumathi, Radha K., and Zennathunnisa from DWRU, and Aayush Rathi and Ambika Tandon from CIS. Through a collective research process, this research team has explored the proliferation of digital platforms as a key intermediary in the domestic work sector, and in supporting or challenging deeply rooted structural inequities. For more information on the research project, see the project announcement published on the CIS website [1]. This work forms part of the ​ Association for Progressive Communications’ Feminist Internet Research Network​ project, supported by the International Development Research Centre​, Ottawa, Canada.

The multistakeholder consultation was structured in two segments: a) a presentation outlining initial observations and analysis, and b) a semi-moderated open discussion. Together, these sessions aimed to initiate conversations pertaining to the role of digital platforms, the legal classification of domestic and gig workers, and devising regulatory solutions to improve conditions of work. Preliminary findings were based on qualitative in-depth interviews with workers, platform companies, unions, skilling agencies, and labour officials in both Bengaluru and New Delhi. Feminist approaches were employed in conducting these interviews, and participatory, consensual, reflexive and collaborative research was prioritised.

Situating the lived realities of domestic workers, the event sought to centre the voice of domestic workers in the consultation around the future of their work. The event had attendance from multilingual attendees. The original presentation was made in English, and Geeta Menon translated the presentation and the discussion that followed in Kannada [2].

 

Footnotes

[1] Tandon, A., & Rathi, A. (2019, October 1). Digital mediation of domestic and care work in India: Project Announcement. Retrieved from ​https://cis-india.org/raw/digital-domestic-work-india-announcement

[2] Rathi, A. (2019, November 16). Domestic Work in the 'Gig Economy'. Retrieved from https://cis-india.org/raw/domestic-work-in-the-gig-economy-20191116​; Tandon, A., & Rathi, A. (2019). Domestic workers in the ‘gig’ economy [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from https://cis-india.org/raw/domestic-work-and-platforms-presentation

 

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Author

Tasneem Mewa

Tasneem Mewa is an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto studying Critical Development Studies. Learning from the work done by her supervisors and colleagues, she is currently conducting research at The Centre for Internet and Society, India on the topics of data, gender, technology, and labour.