Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO)

Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO)

Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO) is a global research-policy network that seeks to improve the status of the working poor, especially women, in the informal economy. It does so by highlighting the size, composition, characteristics, and contribution of the informal economy through improved statistics and research; by helping to strengthen member-based organizations informal workers; and by promoting policy dialogues and processes that include representatives of informal worker organizations.

At a Glance

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Organization Type

  • Non-governmental organization (NGO)


79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138

T : 1-617-496-7037
E : weigo@ksg.harvard.edu

Organization Mission

The common motivation for those who join the network is the relative lack of recognition, understanding, and support for the working poor in the informal economy, especially women, by policy makers, economic planners, and the international development community. Most activities of WIEGO fall under one of its five major Programmes: see Programme Areas: Global Trade Organization and Representation Social Protection Statistics Urban Policies The component activities under these Programmes involve some mix of research studies, data analysis, case study documentation, and policy dialogues.

Conscious efforts are made to involve member-based organizations of informal workers in the identification, prioritization, and design of all activities; and to disseminate the findings, data, and case studies generated – and related lessons learned – as widely as possible. WIEGO’s Organization and Representation Programme also seeks to strengthen - and build networks of – member-based organizations of informal workers; and its Statistics Programme seeks to promote improved statistics and statistical analysis of the informal economy.

Area of Focus

WIEGO's Core Programmes  For each of its programme areas, WIEGO commissions issues papers to identify programme, research and policy priorities. It then convenes workshops of grassroots, research and policy actors. Collaborating institutions and individuals undertake component activities.

Organization and Representation
WIEGO works with grassroots organizations and international networks of informal workers, such as HomeNet South and South East Asia and StreetNet International to strengthen organizing capacity and and to increase the visibility and voice of women in the informal economy. WIEGO also works with international trade union organizations and tries to put informal sector workers on the agenda of governments and international organizations.

The WIEGO 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.

Another aim of the programme is 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 available to policymakers, researchers and advocates in easily accessible formats. It also promotes data-based research on informal sector, informal employment and related topics.

Law and the Informal Economy
WIEGO launched the Programme on Law and Informal Employment in October 2015. The programme aims to analyze and improve legal and regulatory frameworks for informal workers; and to empower workers’ organizations to fight for their recognition and rights as workers, on a local and international level. The programme builds on the work achieved by the Law and the Informal Economy Project.

Social Protection
Few informal workers - whether waged or self-employed - have access to social benefits such as health insurance, materity benefits, disability compensation, and retirement promotion. WIEGO's Social Protection Programme promotes innovative approaches to extend social protection to women working in the informal economy.

Urban Policies
WIEGO's Urban Policies Programme seeks to understand, highlight, and address how different functional areas of urban planning, policies, and regulations affect different categories of urban informal workers. Additionally, the Programme works to correct the public policy bias against street vendors and establish their right to vend. The programme also works to improve services for street vendors and helps them to organize themselves and present their concerns to city planners.

Global Trade
The Global Trade Programme of WIEGO aims to investigate, highlight, and address the impacts - both positive and negative - of global trade and investment policies on the livelihoods of the working poor in the informal economy. More specifically, the Programme focuses on comparative studies in different countries of informal workers in selected global value chains.

Special Initiatives
In addition to the five programme areas, WIEGO also works on activities more generally related to the informal economy which are detailed in the special initiatives section. These activities also include cross-programmatic collaborations.