Informal Workers in Accra Make Their Voices Heard

ghana street vendors Ga-East Traders Union eventIn Ghana, 2012 is an election year and informal workers are working hard to make their voices heard in the capital city of Accra. On the 14th of July the Ga-East Traders Union, an affiliate of the StreetNet Ghana Alliance, organized an event called “Raising the Profile of the Informal Economy in the 2012 Elections” with the support of WIEGO.

The event was attended by about 250 people – a mix of informal workers belonging to both the StreetNet Ghana Alliance and to other organizations of informal workers, as well as invited guests. Speakers included Mrs Rose Kwei of the Ghana Trades Union Congress, and the Honourable Amadu Sorogo, who is the current Member of Parliament for the Ga-East district. Messages of support were sent by the Institute of Local Government Studies, and the association of headload porters (Kayayei) in Accra.

The keynote speech was given by the Honourable Hajia Hajara Musal Ali, who is a member of the Council of State (the President of Ghana’s advisory body). Hajia was herself once a street trader and knows well the difficulties informal workers can face – particularly when it comes to having their voices heard by those in authority. To help raise the profile of informal workers during the elections, she emphasized the importance of workers coming together to form strong, member-led, democratic associations. She urged workers to become knowledgeable about government policies so that they could work strategically to ensure that these policies work in their interests. Finally she stated that it was important that informal worker associations not get involved in party politics, because she believes that to be strong they have to remain independent.

By all accounts the event was a resounding success, and paves the way for further events, which will be held under WIEGO’s Accra Focal Cities initiative, aimed at increasing the voice and visibility of informal workers during and after Ghana’s 2012 elections.