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Syrian women refugees: opportunity in the gig economy?

Research report

Written by Abigail Hunt, Emma Samman, Dina Mansour-Ille

Research report

As of September 2017, just under 660,000 Syrian refugees were registered as living in neighbouring Jordan, alongside an unknown number of unregistered refugees, due to crisis in Syria. The protracted nature of the conflict means that many refugees are likely to stay in their host country for some time.

This study explores whether the gig economy, also known as 'crowdwork' or 'on-demand’ work, has the potential to create new economic opportunities for Syrian refugee women.

Most Syrian refugee women report wanting to work, but experience significant barriers including difficulties in travelling alone, a disproportionate unpaid care and domestic workload, and limited opportunities given restrictive socio-cultural norms and associated occupational segregation. In addition, women have received just 5% of the Jordanian work permits issued to Syrians.

The research finds that the gig economy could help women find new clients to purchase their services locally, particularly in areas where they are already skilled, such as home catering, beauty services and, to a lesser extent, domestic work. However – as with Uber-style work elsewhere in the world – significant improvements are needed to make gig work fully benefit them, including ensuring worker protections, improving digital access, providing skills training and facilitating association. 

Abigail Hunt, Emma Samman and Dina Mansour-Ille