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Informal Economy & WIEGO

Home-Based Workers Raise Their Voices

This is one in a series of WIEGO Network impact stories. View all impact stories.

Organizers of HomeNet South Asia Gather for a meeting
photo: HomeNet South Asia

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Informal Economy

This section provides a wide range of in-depth information on the informal economy.  It is designed as a “go to” resource for those interested in different aspects of the informal economy.

Declaration of the African Regional Domestic Workers Conference

Africa Domestic Workers Network is formed
Cape Town, South Africa

On June 16 2013, this second anniversary of the adoption of the C189 and World Domestic Workers’ Day, domestic workers in Africa launched the Africa Domestic Workers Network (AfDWN) in Cape Town, South Africa.

Sewing a Better Future: Sarita, Home-Based Worker, Nepal

saritaFor 11 years, Sarita Adhikary has been working with the Women Skill Development Organization in Nepal. She still vividly remembers her first meeting with the organization’s Executive Director, Mrs Ramkali Khadka—and remembers feeling so nervous she was practically trembling.

Bogota Recycler Nohra Padilla Praised on World Stage


Nohra Padilla was waste picking on a dump in Colombia by the time she was seven years old. On April 15, 2013, her activism on behalf of recyclers was recognized with the world’s largest prize for grassroots environmentalists – the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize.

Origins of a Determined ActivistNohra Padilla

Tough Times for Construction Workers

Samuben - construction workerby Samuben Bhanjibhai Makwana

The Face of Closing Factories and Financial Crisis

Madhuben - factory workerby Madhuben Bhagwandas Parmar

“How can I pay rent, when there is no money to spend on food?”

Chaya Manik Sontakke, Waste Picker, Pune, India

Waste picking was a viable way to feed a family for hardworking Chaya Manik Sontakke—until the recession struck. Widowed with three young children and few options, Chaya turned to waste picking at the age of 20. When she learned about Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat (KKPKP), the trade union of waste pickers in Pune, she joined and began selling what she’d collected at Kashtachi Kamai, a cooperative scrap store that offers fair prices, accurate weights, transaction receipts and profit sharing.

Waste Pickers in Brazil Receive Payment for Environmental Services

by Sonia Dias, WIEGO’s Waste Specialist/Visiting Professor UFMG, Brazil

Brazil has been in the forefront of progressive legislation and public policies geared to the integration of its informal recyclers. In the last 12-15 years, Brazil has seen the enactment of laws supporting the social inclusion of these workers and the implementation of public policies designed for cooperatives and associations of informal collectors of recyclables, known as catadores.

Informality & Growth: Summary of Recent Analyses

James Heintz and Robert Pollin 20021

  • source and type of data:  
    • ILO data: national labour force survey - time-series (1990-1997) 
    • Charmes data: national labour force and enterprise surveys - single point in time 
  • definition of informality:
    • ILO data: employment in small firms + self-employment
    • Charmes data: all employment outside formal firms (residual method)
  • number of countries:
    • ILO data: 14 Latin American countries
    • Charmes data: 23 countries