Sally Roever

International Coordinator

"We all know that change doesn’t happen overnight. What is clear is that creating space for informal workers to be represented at the table, in every part of the process, right from the beginning, is fundamental."


"The single most important thing I have done, and still do, is to listen carefully to ordinary people. I’m talking about people who aren’t considered ‘experts’ by others, the ones who are not invited to speak. I learned very early on to set aside my assumptions and just listen."

Read Learning from the ‘Real Experts’: WIEGO’s New International Coordinator on Leading by Listening

Areas of Expertise

informal employment, law and informality, gender, employment and poverty, urban and local government, research design, qualitative and mixed methods, survey research, questionnaire design, street vendors

Sally took the helm as WIEGO's International Coordinator in 2018. She has 20 years’ experience studying the ways in which laws, policies and politics — at both local and national levels — shape informal work and informal workers' organizations. This experience is based on grounded, in-depth knowledge gained through mixed-method field research and collaboration with informal workers and their membership-based organizations.

Sally Roever at General Assembly

Sally's involvement with WIEGO dates back to 2005. Before becoming International Coordinator, she served as both the Director of WIEGO's Urban Policies Programme and the Street Vendor Specialist.

Sally holds a PhD in political science from the University of California at Berkeley (2005).

Her current research focuses on the risks and vulnerabilities associated with own-account work in the urban informal economy, the role of urban infrastructure and public space in supporting informal livelihoods, and innovations in urban legal frameworks regarding informal employment. Her research has appeared in several journals, including Environment and Urbanization, International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, and Cityscape. She also has published articles in The Guardian, Cityscope, the Global Urbanist, and Development Progress, among others, and has been cited by media outlets including National Public Radio and Next City.

Sally Roever public event Nov 2018

She has lived and traveled abroad extensively, including a year in Lima, Peru, where she studied street vending organizations and local governance as part of her doctorate. Sally is currently based in Rome, Italy.

"The effective protection of basic rights is essential for street vendors and the households that rely on the earnings they generate. No vendor should be beaten, arrested or jailed for selling legal goods or services in the streets." Read Urban Paradigms and Legal Frameworks: A Global View (paper given at WIEGO's 2017 Research Conference)

Recent Publications and Blogs

2019. Street Trade by Lissette Aliaga Linares  and Sally Roever. In The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Urban and Regional Studies published 15 April 2019.

2018. "Think Rain, Not Robots: Shaping the Future of Work for Women in Informal Employment" (WIEGO Blog)

2017. Improving Pay and Working Conditions from the Perspective of the Informal Economy (with Mike Rogan; policy brief for UN High-Level Panel on Women's Economic Empowerment)

2015. “Key Drivers of Asset Erosion and Accumulation in Informal Employment.” In Caroline Moser, ed., Gender, Asset Accumulation, and Just Cities: Pathways to Transformation.

In the News:

2014. A Tale of Two Cities: Mixing the Urban Poor into a Rich Urban Life. Pooja Bhatya. NPR.

2014. “‘It’s As If We Don’t Exist’: Hawkers from Accra to Lima Speak Out.” The Guardian.

2014. How Informal Workers Contribute to Cities.  Inclusive Cities.

2013. What a Brazilian Soap Opera Can Tell Cities About Street Vending. Inclusive Cities.