Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing

This blog post I’d like to draw attention to WIEGO, or Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing. WIEGO is a “global action-research-policy network” seeking to improve the status of the working poor in the informal economy, especially women. The concept of “informal economy” is defined as a diverse set of economic activities, enterprises, and workers that are not regulated or protected by the state, leaving them vulnerable to rights abuses and unsafe working conditions. The informal economy constitutes half to three quarters of the non-agricultural labor force in developing countries. When agriculture is incorporated, that number rises to as high as 90% of economic activity in certain African nations. The core of WIEGO’s mission is to empower these workers, under the belief that equal economic opportunities and rights should be available to all.

After hearing Keshet Bachan’s lecture on the impact of ICT’s on adolescent girls in developing nations, I began to realize how vulnerable women in particular are to injustice and malpractice in the informal economies they generally occupy. While informal economies are linked both with poverty and economic growth, human rights regulations are incredibly necessary in these fields to ensure that abuses do not go overlooked, and exploitation can be avoided.  WIEGO’s particular focus on “waste pickers”, or those who do the primary collecting and sorting of waste materials in developing countries, provide a great example of laborers who suffer in the “informal economy”.  While waste pickers provide widespread benefits to their communities, municipalities, and environment, (in many countries providing the only form of solid waste collection), they face low social status, poor living and working conditions, and little support from their local governments.

 

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3 responses to “Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing

  • chesneyhardin

    I think the informal economy is a particularly important topic. It’s important to encourage small businesses even in the informal sector of the economy. These means of creating income help reduce the stresses of poverty when other opportunities may not be available. Therefore, it is so important to protect these workers’ rights.
    Thanks for sharing this project!

  • abernst2

    I actually have studied the nature of the informal sector a lot in reference to development because I tend to focus on countries where it is a large part of the labor force, and it is an extremely important factor in every economy. Things like WIEGO and other women’s empowerment projects are really great resources for women in the informal sector. You mentioned people like “waste pickers” who contribute to the community, yet are face social immobilization and lower class status. This is a huge issue when discussing social issues in general, especially urban social dynamics. As a member of the informal sector, you have no “real” job experience, making it nearly impossible for you to venture into the formal sector and out of social marginalization.

  • emcdona1

    This project looks really neat. Not only does the organization improve working conditions, but they also participate in improving statistics on the informal sector and developing networks of informal workers. With such a large representation in the developing world, increasing their validity in the workforce is crucial.

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