Online freelancing training can have a significant positive impact on the employment and income of underprivileged women, according to a study by the BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD).
However, success in freelancing may be hindered by steep competition in the online marketplace, the resultant loss of confidence, and time constraints in learning and building their portfolio due to household responsibilities.
Findings from the study were disseminated at a workshop held Wednesday in Dhaka. The workshop brought together government officials, trainees and implementers to discuss the ways forward to develop an inclusive and sustainable ecosystem for women freelancers in Bangladesh.
The mixed-method study evaluated the impact of a freelancing training programme, conducted by Coders Trust Bangladesh (CTBD), which targeted women aged between 18 to 35 years.
The programme "Women’s Skills Development for Freelancing Marketplaces" aims to develop 1,000 young underprivileged women into freelancers by providing them free training on different ICT-related skills and building their confidence through post-training technical mentorship and career advising support.
Women who received the training had a 28 percent higher employment rate, and a 53 percent increase in monthly income from both freelancing and non-freelancing sources, compared to women in the control group who did not receive the training.
However, constraints such as lack of family support, access to digital devices and connectivity, language barriers, and lack of time drove many women to drop out of the training programme.
Dr Imran Matin, executive director of BIGD, said: "Youth unemployment is a ticking time bomb for Bangladesh; we must address it with urgency."
Ataul Gani Osmani, Country Director, CTBD said, "If you want to earn online, you must learn online."
However, Lopita Huq, research fellow at BIGD, said: "We have to weigh the pros and cons before involving women in online freelancing in Bangladesh."