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
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.
There are about 33 million widows in India, representing 8 per cent of the total female population (Census of India 1991). The proportion of widows in the female population rises sharply with age, reaching over 60 per cent among women aged sixty and above. Despite the concentration of widows in older age groups, there are still a large number of widows below fifty years of age. In spite of these numbers, relatively little is known about the actual living conditions of widows in India or what widows need and want. This article presents the voices of a cross-section of rural widows from nine states of India: over 550 widows who were interviewed during a recent field study and 25 widows who participated in a recent workshop. The first section contrasts the dominant images of widows with the everyday realities of widowhood. The second presents the expressed needs and demands of widows. A concluding section calls for a transformation of widowhood