About Us

Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing & Organizing (WIEGO) is a global network focused on securing livelihoods for the working poor, especially women, in the informal economy. We believe all workers should have equal economic opportunities and rights.

Photo by: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images Reportage

WIEGO creates change by building capacity among informal worker organizations, expanding the knowledge base, and influencing local, national and international policies.


Most of the world’s workers (61% globally) make their living in the informal economy, where earnings are typically low but costs and risks are high. WIEGO contends that poverty and inequality can only be reduced by raising the earnings and lowering the risks of these workers.

In this video, Sally Roever, WIEGO's International Coordinator, talks about why it is crucial not to leave these workers behind.

This summary of the WIEGO Manifesto talks about work and poverty reduction.

WIEGO is distinct from other global research or advocacy organizations. Here's how.

Informal Economy: Definition

The informal economy is comprised of economic activities, enterprises and workers that do not receive social protection through work or legal protection through the state. The concept originally applied to self-employment in small unregistered enterprises. It has expanded to include wage employment in unprotected jobs. The first-ever global estimates of informal employment indicate 61 per cent of workers worldwide are now informal. Learn more about the informal economy.

WIEGO’s Origins

The WIEGO Network was founded 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.

Read WIEGO – Born in Bellagio, 1997


Today WIEGO is a thriving network of 211 Individual and Institutional Members in over 40 countries. Together, our Members, Directors and Team strive:

  • to put issues of employment/work in general, and of informal workers in particular, at the centre of development discourse, policies and processes relating to growth and poverty
  • to investigate and increase understanding of the size, composition and contribution of the informal economy and of the status, needs and constraints of specific groups of informal workers
  • to investigate and increase understanding of how different groups of the working poor, especially women, in the informal economy are linked to the formal economy and inserted into the global economy
  • to promote appropriate and equitable policies, laws, regulations and institutions that can improve and secure the livelihoods of the working poor in the informal economy

The WIEGO Network comprises

  • membership-based organizations (MBOs) of informal workers who are involved in the identification, prioritization and design of all our activities
  • individual researchers who are engaged in analysis of  the informal economy
  • development practitioners who are concerned with poverty and informality

See Who We Are and What We Do.

Want to partner with WIEGO? Please visit our Partnering with WIEGO page for more information.

View past annual reports.

Annual Report 2017-18


WIEGO's Annual Report: 2017-2018

View past annual reports.