Special Initiatives

Exposure Dialogue Programmes


WIEGO Specialists

Marty Chen
International Coordinator

To augment our programmes and projects, WIEGO undertakes a range of special initiatives, most focused on advancing research and expanding dialogue on the informal economy. These are designed and implemented in collaboration with members or partners from WIEGO’s constituent groups: membership-based organizations (MBOs) of informal workers, researchers and statisticians, and practitioners from development agencies (see Who We Are for more). 


World Development Report 2013 on Jobs

For the World Development Report (WDR) 2013, which focused on “jobs”, WIEGO produced five cases studies and a synthesis report on representative voice and economic rights of informal workers. WIEGO’s International Coordinator, Marty Chen, was asked to conduct a peer review of the draft WDR 2013 and to take part in a panel discussion about the report.

Agenda-Setting Research Conference

In March 2011, experts from around the world came together in Cape Town, South Africa to develop an agenda of research on the informal economy/informal employment that would build on, broaden and deepen existing research. The aim was to identify research questions that would expand research on informal employment to new topic areas and more regions of the world, both developing and developed. Read more and see the Conference Report.

Exposure-Dialogue Programmes

Exposure-Dialogue Programmes (EDPs) allow researchers and practitioners from a wide range of fields to experience firsthand the challenges workers in informal employment face. Guests live and work alongside their hosts for a period of days. After the exposure, both guests and hosts reflect on the experience. Guests then engage in a structured dialogue on a relevant topic such as informality and labour markets or informality and law, Afterward, they are asked to write their personal reflections and technical notes.

Devi-ben EDPEDP Focused on Law & Informality: 2013 - ongoing

Along with Namrata Bali of SEWA Academy and two human rights lawyers at Harvard University, WIEGO organized a series of EDPs on Law & Informality to engage human rights judges, legal advocates, and activists around issues of relating to informal employment, informal settlements and informal citizenship. The first, held in Ahmedabad, India in February 2013, saw judges, lawyers, and activists from Colombia, Ghana, India, Peru, and South Africa – as well as legal experts from other countries – spend two days and nights with a street vendor or waste picker host. Participants completed personal and technical reflections and held a policy dialogue with legal experts from India. Read Marty Chen's reflections

Another EDP on Law & Informality will be held in Bogota, Colombia in 2015.

Cornell-SEWA-WIEGO Exposure Dialogue Programme (2004-2011)

Exposure Dialogue Programme, Mexico

From 2004 - 2011, WIEGO co-organized a series of EDPs with the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) and Cornell University. The aim was to bridge the perspectives of mainstream economists and ground level activists on informal employment, labour markets and policies, and poverty . The EDPs took place in Ahmedabad, India (2004 and 2008); Durban, South Africa (2007 and 2011); and Oaxaca, Mexico (2009).

A rich record of the EDP participants’ stories, experiences and shifting outlooks are captured inBridging Perspectives: The Cornell-SEWA-WIEGO Exposure Dialogue Programme on Labour, Informal Employment and Poverty. Another tangible outcome of the Cornell-SEWA-WIEGO Exposure Dialogue Programme was a conference and volume on the role of membership-based organizations of the poor in achieving equitable growth and poverty reduction. Learn more about the conference.

Learn more about this series of Exposure-Dialogue activities and outcomes.


Exposure Dialogue Programme, Mexico

Policy Dialogues

In addition to the policy dialogues organized under our core programmes and focal cities initiatives, WIEGO organizes other policies dialogues, including:

Formalizing the Informal Economy? – 2013
: WIEGO hosted this event in Montevideo, Uruguay, which saw government officials and trade unionists talk with informal worker leaders.

European Development Days Conference Panel – 2012: The European Commission and WIEGO co-hosted a panel on “The Perspective of the Working Poor in the Informal Economy” at the European Development Days conference in Brussels. Academics, practitioners and policymakers discussed what policies are needed to create inclusive growth for the working poor in the informal economy.

Accra, Ghana – 2011: Hosts: Ghana Trades Union Congress (GTUC), WIEGO and the Institute for Local Government Studies (ILGS) Policy Dialogue; Attendees: representatives of informal worker organizations, trade unions and others with an interest in the informal economy in Ghana; officials from the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, and the Ministry of Employment and Social Welfare.

New Delhi, India – 2008: National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and the report of the National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganized Sector, organized with and hosted by the National Council of Applied Economics Research.

Pretoria, South Africa – 2007: The Second Economy: Linkages between the Formal and Informal Economies, co-organized with the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), the School of Development Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and the Department of Trade and Industry in South Africa.

Past Initiatives

See Past Initiatives