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Feminist Approaches to Labour Collectives (FemLab.co) is a seed-funded initiative by the International Development Research Center (IDRC), Canada, as part of their Future of Work series. This project builds on an understanding of communicative ecologies of marginalized women groups and other vulnerable populations in specific sites of informality in the Global South. We explore the everyday labour of these populations in using digital media to broaden their networks, self-representation, expression, voice, and agency. We believe that these online networked practices may foster new forms of livelihoods, fairer work conditions, ethical global supply chains, and feminist governance structures and design.

Despite limited access to smartphones and data plans, restricted mobility, sexual harassment, and gendered legal and social norms, women groups tend to organize themselves in ways that, if attended to, can radically overhaul how we approach design, governance, networks, and visions for their work. Access to a digital platform could result in previously unthinkable independence, professionalism and respect, dignified work, and other positive repercussions if designed in an inclusive and ethical manner.

By taking a user-centered and feminist approach to design and deployment of new media tools and working alongside diverse stakeholders such as tech designers, policy makers, NGOs, aid agencies, feminist and worker activists, and scholars and business folks, the FemLab team come together to envision in concrete terms how digital platforms may be optimized to enhance representation, share information, and connect and collectivize in a changing and increasingly precarious market and society.

The insights from our diverse projects are applied to 1) designing ethical platforms, 2) creating digital storytelling campaigns/ outreach, and 3) making accessible legal services via visual contracts/toolkits.

Insight: To build user and stakeholder insight through ethnographic engagement 

Engage: To make legal knowledge accessible through multimedia storytelling

Design: To guide in ethical design and deployment for empowering workers from below

Latest from the Blog

Collective brainstorming to imagine a feminist labour collective

[By Siddharth de Souza and Siddhi Gupta] In early July 2021, as a group at FemLab.Co, we explored how to think about the connections between feminism, feminist design, and labour collectives that emerged in our work as researchers, lawyers, activists and designers. As part of this exercise, we were interested in discussing the ways in […]

How a women’s organization in Kerala stood up for the right to sit

[By Anila Backer A P] It hasn’t always been easy for women to attain and enjoy their rights. When we look back into history, most of the fundamental human rights have been won by women by protesting, taking to the streets in strikes and boycotts and fighting in the courtrooms. This is particularly true for […]

Women in Digital – the organization that has trained thousands of female coders in Bangladesh

[By Jamil Wyne] Greater inclusion in the technology sector – specifically ensuring that women and other under-represented groups can find gainful employment within it and make meaningful contributions to the sector – is predicated on building computing capacity of these demographics. Teaching coding skills, and broadening individuals’ exposure to digital industries writ large is a […]