Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO) is a global network dedicated to improving the working conditions of the working poor – especially women – in the informal economy. We strive for equal economic opportunities, rights, protection and voice for all workers.
Today, 61 per cent of the world’s workers earn their living in the informal economy – in jobs and enterprises that are not regulated or protected by the government but that provide critical economic opportunities for the working poor. In these jobs, poverty rates are high and respect for human rights and workers’ rights is low.
Watch this short explainer on the informal economy.
Since 1997, WIEGO has connected membership-based organizations (MBOs) of workers in the informal economy – including trade unions, cooperatives and worker associations – with researchers, statisticians and development practitioners, to address the concerns of their grass-roots worker base.
WIEGO works to secure fair incomes and safe working environments for workers, and to lower their vulnerability to illness, unemployment and external shocks – like a pandemic or economic crisis – through the implementation of government policies and programmes designed to reduce and prevent these risks.
WIEGO promotes such change by improving statistics and expanding knowledge on the informal economy, building networks and capacity among worker organizations and offering support to workers as they fight to influence local, national and international policies.
Read more about WIEGO’s mission in our Manifesto.
What we do
WIEGO supports, strengthens and connects organizations of the working poor to enable them to amplify their collective voice in the policy making and rule-setting bodies that affect their work and lives.
WIEGO conducts and sponsors research and helps the development and improvement of official statistics on informal employment and the informal economy to increase the visibility of workers in this sector. Our publications and website offer a wealth of knowledge about the informal economy.
WIEGO promotes the validity of workers in the informal economy as legitimate economic agents who contribute to the overall economy and as legitimate beneficiaries of economic and social policies. We also advance their incorporation into policymaking and rule-setting processes.
Our work focuses predominantly on urban informal employment around the globe, which falls into these four occupational groups that employ large numbers of poorer working women: Domestic Workers, Home-Based Workers (including Garment Workers), Street Vendors and Waste Pickers.
How we do it
WIEGO is distinct from other global research or advocacy organizations in the way that we mobilize credible research, statistics and policy analysis in support of the everyday struggle for rights and dignity of the working poor – especially women – in the informal economy.
Because of our direct engagement with organizations of workers in the informal economy, WIEGO’s analysis focuses on the concrete reality of the working poor, especially women, in the informal economy and our research and policy agenda reflects their needs and demands.
Alliances between our three constituencies – worker organizations, researchers and statisticians, and development practitioners – have created a grounded understanding of the informal economy, rigorous findings and informed analysis, and leverage and influence of informed policymakers.
The WIEGO Network
The WIEGO Network was founded in 1997 by 10 activists, researchers, and development practitioners who shared a concern that the working poor in the informal economy, especially women, are not understood, valued, or supported in policy circles or by the international development community.
Today, WIEGO is a thriving network that is active in over 50 countries.
MBOs that are active in WIEGO are invited to become Institutional Members.
Researchers, statisticians and practitioners from development agencies who are active in WIEGO are invited to become Individual Members.
As of November 2018, the WIEGO network had 156 Members – 37 Institutional and 119 Individual Members – from around the globe.
To receive updates about our work with grass-roots worker organizations, sign up to the WIEGO MBO Newsletter.
The WIEGO Team includes over 73 specialists based in more than 24 countries around the world, which allows us to create and maintain strong partnerships and alliances in all regions. Our specialists are predominantly contracted consultants, with only a small segment working as full-time employees for WIEGO. Many also play important roles as teachers, researchers and consultants for other institutions.
The WIEGO Ltd. Office is in Manchester, UK, where the Operations and Finance Teams are based.
A 10-person Board of Directors governs the WIEGO network. Board members are drawn from our four constituencies and come from diverse backgrounds and different regions. The Board has two committees: a Management (or executive) Committee and a Financial Committee.
Want to partner with WIEGO? Please visit our Partnering with WIEGO page for more information.