WIEGO in Action

The working poor in the informal economy, especially women, often lack economic opportunities, economic rights and economic power.

WIEGO works to strengthen and link/network organizations of informal workers, such as domestic workers, home-based workers, street vendors and waste pickers. We provide them with credible research, official statistics, and policy analysis so that they can help shape the laws, policies and practices that affect their livelihoods.

We do this because we believe that all workers should have equal economic opportunities and rights, and be able to determine the conditions of their work and lives.

What WIEGO Does

WIEGO pursues our goals and objectives through a mix of the following activities:

# 1 - Helping build and strengthen networks of organizations of informal workers.

We have helped build and/or strengthen the following networks:

  • one international federation of domestic worker organizations (International Domestic Worker Federation) and one of its three regional affiliates (in Africa)
  • two regional networks of home-based worker organizations (HomeNet South Asia and HomeNet Eastern Europe)
  • two national networks (in India and Kenya) and one international network (StreetNet International) of street vendor organizations
  • one national network (South Africa) and one global alliance of waste picker organizations

# 2 - Undertaking field research and policy studies on the informal economy as well as improving the collection and tabulation of national labour force and other economic statistics and, as data become available, compiling and analysis the data.

  • policy research for, among others, the Commonwealth Secretariat, the International Labour Organization, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, UNIFEM and UN Women, and the World Bank
  • field research on the impact of the Global Recession on informal workers in 12 cities and on the drivers of/responses to change in the urban informal economy in 10 cities
  • data compilation and analysis, with the ILO as well as national statisticians and data analysts, on women and men in the informal economy, including two editions of the first-ever compilation of national data on informal employment as well as first-ever estimates of specific groups of informal workers: see Women and Men in the Informal Economy: A Statistical Picture 2002 and Women and Men in the Informal Economy: A Statistical Picture 2013, 2nd edition.
  • case studies of the characteristics and working conditions of specific groups of workers in multiple countries, including the occupational health and safety of informal workers

All of the publications which report the findings from these studies are posted on the WIEGO website: many are Working Papers in the WIEGO Publication Series.

# 3 - Providing policy advice and convening policy dialogues, together with our MBO members and partners, on the informal economy.

WIEGO partners with the MBOs of informal workers in joint advocacy efforts at the local, national and international levels. In so doing, we help to strengthen the advocacy capacity of the MBOs by:

  • preparing user-friendly advocacy tools that contain essential facts and figures as well as key policy messages
  • training MBO leaders in how to negotiate and advocate
  • organizing policy dialogues with relevant government officials and other stakeholders
  • supporting delegations of informal workers to participate in relevant regional and international policy dialogues through financial, logistical, technical, media, and translation support

In two focal cities, Accra, Ghana and Lima, Peru WIEGO has a local coordinator who builds advocacy platforms of organizations of informal workers and expert advisory committees to help facilitate and advise the advocacy efforts: see Impact Stories from Accra, Ghana and Lima, Peru.

# 4 - Documenting and disseminating good practice in support of the informal workforce.

WIEGO has a Publication Series which includes 50 Briefs that document good practice in three domains - policies and programmes, organizing, statistics - and selected technical areas. For a description of key examples of these Briefs, see Good Practice Documentation.

We also seek to disseminate the findings, data, and case studies generated – and related lessons learned – as widely as possible: through our two websites (wiego.org and inclusivecities.org); social media; and print media.

How WIEGO Works

Two defining features of how WIEGO works is that, first, we involve membership-based organizations (MBOs) of informal workers in most of our activities: and, second, we focus and have expertise on specific sectors or groups of informal workers.

MBO Engagement

WIEGO involves membership-based organizations (MBOs) of informal workers in the prioritization, design, and implementation of most of our activities. We have raised funds for three large consortium grants that include MBOs of informal workers as partners. We also partnered with MBOs in the two multi-city field studies noted above: a two-round study of the impact of the Global Recession on urban informal workers in 12 cities (2009 and 2011); and the first round, of a two-round study on drivers of/responses to changes in the livelihoods of urban informal workers (see IEMS page on WIEGO website). Further, as noted above, we engage with MBOs in joint advocacy efforts.

Sector Focus

In much of our work, WIEGO focuses on specific sectors or groups of informal workers, notably: domestic workers, home-based producers, street vendors, and waste pickers. All of our programmes are designed to help build the voice, visibility and validity of these specific groups of workers. To guide our sector-specific work, we have sector specialists on the WIEGO Team: three sector specialists (for home-based workers, street vendors and waste pickers) on our Urban Policies programme team; three waste picker specialists and one domestic worker specialist on our Organization and Representation Team. For a description of how our sector-specific focus works, see A Sector-Based Approach.

For two key recent examples of WIEGO in Action with our MBO partners and a sector focus,

see Informal Economy Monitoring Study

see World Urban Forum 2014.