Expanding women’ s economic opportunities is critical for meeting the obligations laid out in major human rights conventions and for enhancing countries’ development prospects and eliminating poverty. Realising the potential of all people contributes to productivity and a more resilient society. This matters at the national, community, family and individual levels. As a recent qualitative study of women and men in 20 countries across the world concludes, “women’s ability to work for pay... may be one of the most visible and game-changing events in the life of modern households and all communities.
Globalization presents threats to and opportunities for women working in the informal sector. The paper, which draws on the work of Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO) Global Markets Program and of HomeNet, focuses on women home-based workers and analyzes, within the framework of global value-chains, the impact of globalization on labor relations and other market transactions. The chains reviewed are: manufactured goods (fashion garments); agricultural products (nontraditional exports); and nontimber forest products (shea butter). The paper shows how this form of analysis helps to identify the uneven distribution of power and returns within the chains – between rich and poor and between women and men. It concludes by emphasizing the importance of the work of the Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA), HomeNet, and StreetNet in organizing home-based workers, both locally and internationally, as well as that of WIEGO in supporting them.
This paper seeks to focus attention on the challenge of decent work for the
working poor in the informal economy. The findings presented here are based on recent analyses of national data in a cross-section of developing countries. The data illustrate the multi-segmented structure of the labour force - both formal and informal - and the average earnings and poverty risk associated with working in the different segments. Special attention is paid to the differential location of the working poor, both women and men, in multi segmented labour markets. The paper argues that there is a need to reorient economic policies to promote more and better employment in order to reduce poverty; improve national employment statistics to capture all forms of informal employment; rethink economic models of labour markets to incorporate self-employment and all forms of waged labour; and increase the representative voice of workers - especially informal workers,
both women and men- in the processes and institutions that determine economic policies and formulate the "rules of the (economic) game