What We Do
WIEGO seeks to increase the voice, visibility and validity of the working poor, especially women.
- Increased Voice – WIEGO works to support and strengthen organizations of the working poor and to link organizations together. We also help them gain representation in the policy making and rule-setting bodies that affect their work and lives.
- Increased Visibility – WIEGO undertakes and sponsors research and helps to develop and improve official statistics on informal employment and the informal economy. We produce a publication series and maintain a web resource on the informal economy.
- Increased Validity – WIEGO promotes the mainstream recognition of informal workers as legitimate economic agents who contribute to the overall economy and are legitimate beneficiaries of economic and social policies. We also advance the incorporation of informal workers into policymaking and rule-setting processes.
Membership-based organizations (MBOs) of informal workers are involved in the identification, prioritization and design of all of our activities. We disseminate the findings, data, and case studies generated – and related lessons learned – widely.
Five Core Programmes
Organization & Representation Programme
Organization & Representation supports the development of membership-based organizations (MBOs) – trade unions, cooperatives, and worker associations – that are democratic and representative, as well as national and international alliances and networks. The programme provides capacity-building support to organizations of informal workers; builds knowledge on the organization of informal workers through the development of a database on workers' organizations and case studies; and produces education and capacity building resources to help informal workers understand their rights as workers and citizens and to build effective organizations. We also work to develop confident and effective women leaders in all sectors and organizations of the informal economy.
The Statistics Programme seeks to develop statistics on the informal economy as an essential component of mainstream or official statistics at national, regional and international levels. The programme contributes to improving classifications, concepts and methods for data collection and for estimating the contribution of informal employment to national economies It also encourages countries to collect and improve data on these topics.
The programme also aims to prepare statistical data and analysis on the size, composition and contribution of the informal economy and the characteristics and situation of those who work in it, and to make these data available to policymakers, researchers and advocates in easily accessible formats. It also promotes data-based research on informal sector, informal employment and related topics.
Global Trade Programme
Global Trade explores the impacts – positive and negative – of global trade and investment policies on the livelihoods of the working poor, especially women, in the informal economy. Our focus is on how informal workers are inserted into global value chains, especially handicrafts, garments, and rural commodities. We want to help informal worker groups, especially those with women members and leaders, seize the opportunities and address the constraints posed by globalized production systems.
Social Protection Programme
Social Protection investigates how common contingencies and systemic shocks affect informal workers, how the nature of informal work creates risks specific to informal workers, and whether and how informal workers gain access to social protection. It also aims to identify, document, and promote innovative approaches to providing social protection to informal workers, whether this involves extending the coverage of existing schemes or developing new schemes. Occupational health and safety for informal workers is a major component of this programme.
Urban Policies Programme
Urban Policies seeks to enhance the capacity of informal workers to shape the urban policies and environment in which they live and work. This work is informed by a vision in which the informal economy is recognized as central to the economy of towns and cities in the developing world: a future where urban authorities have prioritized the provision of basic infrastructure services to the working poor and their integration into local economic development. The programme directly addresses the biases that currently underpin exclusionary practices; increases the visibility of informal workers through research, good practice documentation, and the analysis and dissemination of news; and gives technical support to informal workers’ organizations.
WIEGO undertakes Special Initiatives that supplement or augment the activities of our core Programmes and Global Projects. These include technical and policy dialogues; collaborative research and advocacy; commissioned research for international agencies; and conferences or public events. For example, WIEGO co-organized a series of Exposure Dialogues between 2004 and 2011 with Cornell University and the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) of India. These dialogues help bridge the perspectives on employment and labour markets of mainstream economists, SEWA activists and WIEGO researchers.
WIEGO involves MBOs of informal workers in the identification, prioritization and design of all of our activities. We also seek to disseminate the findings, data, and case studies generated – and related lessons learned – as widely as possible.
WIEGO coordinates two Global Projects that involve partnerships with membership-based organizations of informal organizations. WIEGO provides technical support and expertise, and leverages funding: