Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing & Organizing (WIEGO)
Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO) is a global action-research-policy network that seeks to improve the status of the working poor in the informal economy, especially women. Economic empowerment of these workers is at the heart of WIEGO’s mission. WIEGO believes all workers should have equal economic opportunities and rights and be able to determine the conditions of their work and lives. WIEGO works to improve the status of the working poor, especially women, in the informal economy through increased organization and representation; improved statistics and research; more inclusive policy processes; and more equitable trade, labor, urban planning and social protection policies.
In all of its activities, WIEGO seeks to help the working poor, especially women, in the informal economy achieve increased:
- Voice by fostering more and stronger organizations of the working poor in the informal economy and promoting their incorporation into policy-making and rule-setting processes
- Visibility by improving statistics and promoting research, policy analysis and good practice documentation on the informal economy.
- Validity by highlighting that the working poor in the informal economy contribute to the economy and to society and by promoting them as legitimate targets of economic as well as social policies.
WIEGO builds alliances with and draws its membership from three constituencies:
- Membership-Based Organizations of informal workers, such as cooperatives, unions and associations
- Researchers and Statisticians who carry out research, data collection or data analysis on the informal economy
- Practitioners from Development Agencies (intergovernmental, governmental, non-governmental) who provide services to or shape policies towards the informal workforce
As of July 2012, the WIEGO network had 33 Institutional Members and 140 Individual Members from 42 countries.
WIEGO has five core Programmes as well as special projects and initiatives.
- Organization and Representation program works to strengthen membership-based organizations (MBOs) or informal workers, especially those that involve women as members and leaders, and to build sector-specific networks of such organizations.
- Statistics program encourages the collection and use of data on the informal economy as an essential component of official statistics; works to improve classifications, concepts and methods for estimating the size, composition and economic contribution of the informal economy; and makes data and analysis available to policymakers, researchers and advocates in accessible formats.
- Global Trade program documents how global trade and investment policies impact informal workers, and promotes ethical and fair trade practices for home-based workers and small producer groups by building knowledge of their situation in global value chains.
- Social Protection program examines the specific risks faced by informal workers, particularly women, and promotes innovative approaches to extending social protection coverage to informal workers, including occupational health and safety.
- Urban Policies program promotes inclusive urban planning, policies and practices towards the urban working poor through research, good practice documentation and policy dialogues.
- Global Projects involve partnerships with MBOs of informal workers and currently include the Inclusive Cities for the Working Poor and Women’s Economic Empowerment projects.
- Special Initiatives include technical and policy dialogues; collaborative research and advocacy; commissioned research for international agencies; and conferences or public events.
The WIEGO network is registered as a charity in the UK. The International Coordinator of WIEGO, Marty Chen, is a Lecturer in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. The WIEGO network has a secretariat at the Hauser Center at Harvard University and an office in Manchester, UK.