Find out how Indian Women are Thriving through Freelance Culture

By: Navyasri, Writer, Women Entrepreneur

Security, safety, and certainty were formerly the primary reasons for choosing a career. To make ends meet, most people would rely on their day jobs. However, as time passed, professionals felt compelled to work multiple jobs and pursue their passions, resulting in the emergence of the GIG economy. Freelancing has grown in popularity in recent years due to its flexible hours and ability to work on one's own terms. The freelance community in India has developed dramatically, making India the world's largest freelancing market. What's interesting is that everyone is jumping on the freelance bandwagon, regardless of age, gender, job, or location. Indeed, Indian women freelancers reported higher levels of satisfaction as a result of the increased work-life balance and flexibility in work schedules provided by the gig culture.

The fourth edition of Payoneer's Freelancer Income Report was released by Payoneer, a commerce and technology business that powers payments and growth for the new global economy. According to the survey, Indian women freelancers expressed higher levels of satisfaction as a result of the gig culture's better work-life balance and flexibility in work schedules. The segment's average hourly earning rate has also increased by 42%, from $14/hour in 2020 to $22/hour in 2022. In addition, their average hourly wages rate is comparable to that of their international counterparts.

The research is based on a survey of 2,300 freelancers from more than 100 countries, and it details how they have fared since the COVID-19 outbreak began.

Despite the fact that the pandemic caused unprecedented work market disruptions, it boosted the number of freelancers in India. International assignments have increased the need for freelancers in India. The Indian freelancing community's average hourly rates increased from $21 in 2020 to $26 in 2022.

In India, freelancing opens the door to a new beginning in terms of closing the gender pay gap. According to the report, the income disparity between men and women in India has narrowed marginally since 2020. In 2022, Indian women will earn 81 percent of what their male colleagues earn, with average hourly rates of $22/hour vs $27/hour for men.

Prior to COVID, the gender pay gap was 77%. Surprisingly, Indian women freelancers had a much higher gender pay ratio than their counterparts in developed markets such as North America, which stood at 71%. India outperforms the global average hourly earnings rate in a variety of categories.

Indian freelancers outperformed their global counterparts and were able to demand a higher average hourly rate for some of the most popular professions, such as finance, which demanded an hourly rate of $71 compared to the global average of $41, and marketing, which demanded $47 compared to the global average of $34. The premium being charged by Indian freelancers demonstrates the growing global acceptance of Indian work quality.

“Indian freelancing is making a value driven shift in the global gig economy. In the last few years, we have witnessed a constant increase in freelancer income and their movement to more specialized fields like marketing, coding and finance. More flexibility, better-skilled opportunities, and increased earnings are some leading to more professionals entering this economy.” said Rohit Kulkarni, Senior Vice President at Payoneer India. “The findings of our Freelancer Income Report 2022 cements our belief that Indian freelancing will continue making rapid strides in the global gig market in days to come. We, at Payoneer, are on a mission to empower freelancers from all walks of life with the resources and tools to expand their business opportunities across international markets.” 

The Indian freelancing sector is still dominated by young Indian freelancers between the ages of 18 and 34, as reported in the previous study. More than half of Indian respondents (57%) said they get most of their work from online marketplaces like Upwork, Fiverr, and others, while just 7 percent said they get it from conventional channels like word of mouth and referrals. The top problems for Indian freelancers were related to business growth, such as expanding into new markets and negotiating time and fees.

Gone are the days when women's pay in freelancing were lower than men's. It is just the value that you bring to the table that determines whether you are worth the package that you will be given. With the increase in digitisation, the world has become smaller; allowing us to connect with others and access opportunities all around the world. It's all about knowing what options and paths are accessible to you. Freelancing should be pursued as a career rather than taking it as an interim opportunity.

If you're serious about freelancing, you should establish yourself and pursue any freelance opportunity that comes your way, regardless of pay. The market is not as crowded as we imagine it to be; it's similar to the initial rush we have when we notice a 'on sale' sign on the door. People tend to give up after a while, so you'll have to stick it out a little longer. Patience and persistence are essential.