Gendering platform co-operativism: the rise of women-owned rider co-operatives in Brazil and Spain
This paper analyses the potential and challenges of introducing a gender-sensitive aspect to the platform cooperativism movement, using two women-owned bike delivery cooperatives – Senoritas Courier in Brazil and Les Mercedes in Spain – as case studies. It explores why the cooperatives were formed by their members, and how they have attempted to redefine the relationship between women, work, and technology. First, the paper outlines how digital labor platforms amplify gender inequality, the potential, limitations, and strategies of developing platform cooperatives as alternative work arrangements by and for women, and its highly participatory research methodology. Next, the paper explores how the two case studies shaped their work organization according to considerations of gender, negotiated motherhood and social expectations of the gendered division of labor, struggled to compete against platform capitalism, and had differing degrees of success due to differences in public policy and other contextual factors between the global north and south. Ultimately, the paper concludes by recognizing platform cooperatives’ potential as a form of collective organization for survival by women workers and others marginalized in a capitalist economy, and calls for the further inclusion and enaction of a gender perspective in the development of platform cooperativism.