IGF 2019 WS #200 Rethinking the Jobs of the Future for Vulnerable Populations and Women at the Margins

Organizer 1: Beatriz Irisarri, Lacnic
Organizer 2: Carolina Caeiro, LACNIC
Organizer 3: Paula Oteguy, LACNIC
Organizer 4: Galperin Hernan, USC
Organizer 5: Kevon Swift, LACNIC

Speaker 1: Helani Galpaya, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 2: Sebastián Siseles, Private Sector, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 3: Mark Graham, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 4: Carolina Caeiro, Technical Community, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)

Policy Question(s): 

Looking at both jobs being created through the digital transformation and needed skill-sets, what concrete job opportunities exist for workers in the Global South? What is the gap between skills needed and workforce qualifications, specifically for low-income women in the Global South? 

To what extent can low-income women in the Global South take advantage of jobs being created? What strategies can be leveraged to ensure that low-skilled women are better equipped to participate in the digital economy? What does it take to bring new female workers up to speed to meet job demand?

What measures are needed to ensure emerging and evolving jobs provide decent work opportunities for vulnerable populations in the Global South, particularly women?

Relevance to Theme:

The workshops seeks to get to the heart of one crucial aspect of digital inclusion: what the future of work looks like for vulnerable populations, particularly,  women with low-digital skills in the Global South.


Increased Internet connectivity and lower workforce costs have allowed companies to outsource a growing number of jobs to destinations across the Global South either through traditional BPO models or through online, freelancing platforms. In low and middle income countries, remote and platform-mediated work is usually perceived as a good chance to overcome pervasive unemployment and derive new sources of income for qualified populations.  


Securing work, however, remains challenging for many, particularly for women. 


On the one hand, required skill sets means that new work opportunities are beyond the reach of populations with lower levels of digital literacy, and oftentimes, with limited access to Internet connectivity. Additional challenges are faced by historically marginalized groups, such as low-income women. 


Even for those able to take advantage of job creation, working conditions are often dire. In the case of talent platforms, for example, many spend a considerable number of unpaid hours looking and bidding for work. New platform users have a hard time securing their first gigs.  Achieving liveable wages and dignified working conditions seems particularly difficult for a considerable proportion of the platform users.


Overall, vulnerable populations --low-income women in particular--  are at the risk of being further marginalized if unable to reap the benefits of the digital economy and the new and transforming nature of the jobs of the future.


The workshop seeks to discuss: (a) what gap exists between skills needed and workforce qualifications in the Global South; (b) what strategies can be set in place to close that gap, and ensure that women with low digital skills are better equipped to take advantage of new and transforming work opportunities; and (c) debate what policy and private sector compromises are needed for ensuring that the jobs of the future offer decent and sustainable livelihoods for women and populations at the margins. 

Relevance to Internet Governance: 

The Internet offers a wealth of opportunities to users, but it can also be a great magnifier of existing inequalities if efforts are not set in place to ensure the inclusion of marginalized communities.


Research has highlighted that low-income women and girls in developing countries not only tend to have less access to the Internet, they are also lagging behind in terms of digital skills.  With the imminent transformation of the landscape brought about by automatization and the data revolution, considering the implications for low-income women in the Global South becomes a particularly relevant policy discussion for governments and private sector in particular.


Much debate has centered around opportunities of the future of work for the Global South, but what is often neglected is that emerging opportunities cater to a digitally-able workforce. Further debate is needed to understand: a) what it takes to vulnerable populations, such as low-income women, with lower digital skills to be brought up to speed and not left behind and b) how online platform workers may improve their working conditions and (c) what it takes to make online work accessible to vulnerable populations.


Round Table - U-shape - 90 Min

The roundtable will be structured around debating three central questions: (a) what opportunities exist in the gig economy for workers in the Global South;  (b) what strategies can be deployed to ensure that populations at the margin, particularly low-income women, can also have access to the jobs of the future; and (c) how to encourage that the future of work be shaped to provide decent work and sustainable livelihoods for vulnerable populations and women at the margins.


The session will be moderated by Laurent Elder, Director of Networked Economies at IDRC. Five guest speakers will be given 5 minutes each for opening remarks.


The round table will start off with the point of view from the private sector. Sebastian Siseles, from Freelancer.com  will begin by giving a snapshot of how the work landscape is evolving: what jobs are emerging on online work platforms, what jobs are being transformed, and how workers are filling those opportunities.


The roundtable will then continue to provide insights from development practitioners in South East Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the African region.


Helani Galpaya, Chief Executive Officer of LIRNEasia will be sharing key data and evidence on disparities in ICT access and use based on gender in LAC, Africa and Southeast Asia.  


Carolina Caeiro, Development Projects Coordinator at LACNIC will give a brief presentation on the latest outcomes of Ayitic Goes Global. Throughout 2017 to 2019 the initiative sought to increase women’s access to online work in Haiti by building digital capacities and supporting job search on online platforms with 300 young women. 

Mark Graham, from Fairwork Foundation will speak to the principles for online platforms and some of the best practices in the emerging platform economy.

Lastly, the roundtable will invite a government representative to weigh in on visions about inclusivity and the future of work at a national and international scale. Alejandra Erramuspe, from Uruguay’s Agency for the e-Government and the Information & Communication Society (AGESIC) will touch upon concrete actions and time-bound targets that can be addressed by governments for the inclusion of vulnerable populations in the digital economy.

The remaining 60 minutes will be dedicated to debating with in-person and online session participants with the goal of identifying key challenges at play in developing inclusive approaches to prepare the workforce of the future and scalable strategies to integrate vulnerable populations, particularly low-skilled women in the Global South, into the digital economy. 

Expected outcome:

The session expects to produce three main outcomes:

  • Present a realistic picture of the job opportunities that are emerging for populations in the Global South and visualize existing gaps between skills needed and the female workforce current ability to meet existing job demand.
  • Map out vulnerable communities that are currently excluded or unable to fully participate in the gig economy and identify the reasons and challenges around bringing about their greater participation into the digital economy. 
  • Outline lessons learned about how to empower vulnerable populations and encourage their participation in the workforce of the future. List out strategies that can be replicated for a more inclusive Future of Work.
  • Debate what works well and what needs improving in the gig economy, in terms of providing sustainable livelihoods and decent work for low-income women in the Global South.


Onsite Moderator: 

Laurent Elder, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)

Online Moderator: 

Kevon Swift, Technical Community, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)


Paula Oteguy, Technical Community, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)

Discussion Facilitation: 

The roundtable seeks to be highly participative, and the moderation will seek to encourage as much participation from the audience as from invited speakers. Participants will be asked to join speakers at the roundtable and encouraged to identify the sectors and stakeholder groups they represent. The remote moderator will invite remote participants to also introduce their background to share with the room. The debate will be strongly guided by the three proposed questions and the moderator will call on participants to provide their point of view and experiences to enrich the mapping and identification of both challenges to inclusion into the digital economy as well as the strategies for empowering marginalized communities to participate in the workforce of the future. Workshop organizers and speakers will also be asked to promote the session with colleagues working on digital inclusion and the future of work to ensure the workshop has rich participation from stakeholders with relevant experiences and views to participate in the discussion.

Online Participation: 

There will be an online moderator that will encourage as much as possible online participation, in particular from countries from the global south. In addition, after the first round of interventions, the discussion section of the roundtable will open up with an invitation to online participants to comment on the opening interventions and pose questions to the speakers.

Proposed Additional Tools: During the opening remarks, participants will be invited to pose questions and comments using an online Q&A and Polling Platform; these will be reviewed and used as starters for incentivizing the debate.


GOAL 1: No Poverty
GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
GOAL 10: Reduced Inequalities