UN Panel hears from women in the informal economy

Ahmedabad: The Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) are jointly hosting a global consultation at Ahmedabad on ‘Women’s Voices from the Informal Economy’, bringing together eminent experts on economic empowerment and women informal workers who have organized to form producer groups, collectively advocated for legal reform, and who are engaged in initiatives on social protection and financial inclusion.

The experts are members of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment (UNHLP) that was set up in January 2016 to mobilise global action to strengthen women’s participation in economic activity. Chaired by the President of Costa Rica and the CEO of IKEA, Switzerland, the Panel includes the leaders of the International Monetary Fund, World Bank Group, UN Women and a range of gender equality actors, economics experts, academics, trade union leaders, and business and government representatives from all regions.

The consultation in Ahmedabad will provide an opportunity for Panel members to learn first-hand from women workers about the issues they face and the solutions they have implemented.

“The SEWA-UN Women consultation has been designed to provide deep insight into the lives of women at the grassroots. The Panel has identified key issues for women’s economic empowerment, and the members will see how women have struggled with challenges and get some valuable insights for how to address these,” said Renana Jhabvala, National Coordinator of SEWA and member of the UNHLP.

“The core aim of this consultation is to hear the voices of the invisible – what is their perspective on economic empowerment? Their inputs will go a long way in shaping policies that are meant to usher them into the mainstream.”

“Despite the legal guarantees for employment, women’s participation in the economy in India continues to remain low – and is in fact declining – due to structural barriers that prevent women from entering and growing in the workforce on equal terms,” said Dr. Rebecca Reichmann Tavares, Representative, UN Women India.

“UN Women works to create an enabling environment to strengthen informal workers’ organizations through dialogue and advocacy. We believe in the power of collective action as the most effective means of moving forward, and we are hopeful that the High Level Panel’s work will help strengthen our work locally in India and use success stories from the sub-continent as good practice examples that can be shared globally.”