UN Women Policy Briefs

The UN Women policy brief series synthesizes research findings, analysis and policy recommendations on key policy areas around gender equality and women’s rights in an accessible format. The series aims to bridge the research and policy divide by identifying issues that require urgent policy attention and propose a set of suitable measures to address them. The series is a joint effort of UN Women’s Policy Division, coordinated by the Research and Data Section. To ensure the quality and relevance of the content, each brief undergoes a rigorous internal and external peer review process. These concise and relevant policy-oriented documents are useful resources for gender equality advocates, civil society and other policy actors working to achieve gender equality and women’s rights.

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Towards Inclusive Cities for All

How to Protect the Rights of Women in Informal Self-employment

Informal employment is the norm in most of the developing world, with an over-representation of women. The majority of this work is informal self-employment, which is typically survival-oriented with few prospects and low returns. In spite of its prevalence and its importance to the livelihoods of millions of women and their families, the quality of informal self-employment has received surprisingly little attention from policymakers. The 2030 Agenda, with its goals on decent work and economic growth (SDG 8) and sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11) has the potential to change this. One of the main challenges is that some of the preconditions of labour rights – an employer to address claims to, a conventional workplace that can be inspected and improved and effective trade unions that can engage in social dialogue – are missing. This Policy Brief focuses on three groups of informally self-employed women working in urban areas – street vendors, home-based workers and waste pickers – to show how organizations of informal workers engaging with local and national policymakers are working to advance these workers’ rights and help to create more inclusive cities for all.


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