Ensuring Social Protection Delivery for, with and by Women: The Experiences of Informal Women Workers’ Solidarity Organisations

Millions of women across the globe eke out a living in the vast informal economy of their countries. In fact, according to the ILO’s figures about 2 billion people or 61 per cent of the global workforce are informal workers, and a significant proportion are women. As the studies of the global network, Women in Informal Employment Globalising and Organising (WIEGO), have shown, there is an overlap between poverty, informality and gender, with the added issue of intersectionality – informal women workers disproportionately are from the most vulnerable and discriminated of communities in their countries. They lead precarious lives, focussed on the life-long quest for some measure of work and income security, food security and social protection. The majority have little or no comprehensive and holistic social protection, falling back on their savings, borrowing from neighbours and relatives in times of need, and even pawning their jewellery or mortgaging their assets like land, and work tools like sewing machines during a crisis. Social protection for informal women workers and their families must include health care, including occupational health and maternity care, child care, insurance, pension and housing with basic amenities like a tap and toilet in every home and electricity or solar energy. Further, delivering social protection programmes to informal women workers must follow some basic principles.