International Women's Day - 2013

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International Women’s Day dates back over 100 years and has its roots in workers’ movements for fair and equitable treatment of women. Events are held every year around the globe. Women have not yet gained equal status in all areas, but progress is being made – including in the informal economy, where women form the majority of workers and grapple with high risks, harsh working conditions and low incomes.

This March 8 (as always) we celebrate the achievements being made by informal women workers and their organizations!


Domestic Workers at a peaceful demonstration in Jamaica

Domestic Workers

Since International Women’s Day in 2012, the International Domestic Workers Network has continued to press for ratification of ILO Convention C189. So far, Bolivia, Italy, Mauritius, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Philippines and Uruguay have ratified C189. On International Women’s Day this year, domestic workers are mobilizing and planning actions or events in Cambodia, Hong Kong, Jamaica, South Africa, and Trinidad & Tobago. Actions and events can be shared by posting at IDWN FaceBook Page or 12 by 12 FaceBook Group.

Home-based Workers

Home-Based Worker, ThailandIn South Asia, there are an estimated 50 million home-based workers, 80 per cent of whom are women. In the article “Neither seen nor heard: South Asia's millions of home-based workers,” published in the Global Urbanist, WIEGO’s Shalini Sinha outlines how in South Asia, as elsewhere, home-based workers are organizing, collectively advocating for their rights, and entering into productive dialogues with city officials, urban planners, media and other concerned agencies and institutions.

Waste Pickers

Waste Picker, member of KKPKP, Pune, IndiaIndia

In Pune, India, where 90 per cent of waste pickers are women, the waste picker union KKPKP continues to help waste pickers script their exit out of the rubbish heaps and landfills to transform their lives by defining a legitimate work space for themselves in municipal solid waste management in ways that improve their working conditions. Read more about this process is Poornima Chikarmane’s Policy Brief, Integrating Waste Pickers into Municipal Solid Waste Management in Pune, India.

Latin America

Waste picker at a cooperative, BrazilBeginning in February 2012, the Gender & Waste Project—a partnership between WIEGO, NEPEM-UFMG, and RedLacre—started working to increase the economic and political empowerment of women waste pickers throughout Latin America and Brazil, in the Minas Gerais area in particular. The main focus is to address gender inequality in waste picking activities, extending to the inequality faced in three arenas of their day-to-day lives: at home, at work, and as leaders within their representative organizations. The project is broken down into a four-phase system, all of which are to be completed by September 2014 with the following objectives in mind:

  1. To provide women with the tools to work towards equality in the workplace and their personal lives in order to strengthen their capacities and voices;
  2. To increase women’s leadership roles in waste picker representative organizations; and
  3. To contribute to the economic empowerment of women waste pickers.

Street Vendors

Street Vendor, PeruStreet vending in Peru has a centuries-long history. Men have traditionally held the leadership of the organizations, despite the fact that most of the people working in this sector are women, who are also heads of households. With its creation, the Red de Mujeres Trabajadoras Ambulantes y Comerciantes de Mercados de Lima (Perú) [Network of Street Vending Women Workers and Market Traders of Lima (Peru)] sought to give women workers in the street vending sector a voice, and to raise their profile. The Network has succeeded in the creation of base organizations in over 18 districts of the capital city, Lima, as well as in 7 provinces of the country. It has offered capacity building workshops for its members, and engaged in the defence of their rights vis-à-vis abuses from the authorities in the diverse districts.

Currently, the Network actively participates in the city´s public life. The Municipality of Lima has prepared a new by-law to regulate street vending and the Network has been one of the most important organizations participating in the consultation of its content, making important contributions to the drafting of the final version of the by-law. In tandem with other vending organizations from Lima, the Network began a dialogue to unify the different organizations that resulted in the creation of the Coordinadora del Comercio Popular [Coordinating Body for Street Vending]. With this entity, the Network organized a public event where both the Municipal authority and vendors were able to express their final comments regarding the content of the by-law, which is mostly favorable to the sector and is expected to be approved shortly.

The Network also has an active role in seeing for the wellbeing of its members. Many of them, as well as various colleagues in the sector, were affected by the relocation of the Mercado Mayorista de Lima [Wholesale Market from Lima] from La Victoria to the Santa Ana District. At least 3,000 small vendors that used to work in the areas surrounding the Mercado Mayorista were affected from one day to the next by being left without an appropriate place to work. The Network has had a predominant role in raising awareness in the Municipality of Lima to endow these thousands of people affected with a space to work. In conversations with the Network and the 30 organizations in the sector that were affected, the Municipality of Lima has committed to build a new Municipal Market in the land space across the new Mercado Mayorista, called Tierra Prometida. There is already a written and signed commitment in this regard. This opportunity to continue working comes hand in hand with formalization and the creation of a more decent work space for thousands of women and men that struggle daily for their livelihoods.


International Women's Day 2012