SEWA brought much needed attention to the struggles of women workers in the informal economy at the ITUC World Women’s Conference and at their 5th World Congress

Sister Jyoti Macwan, the General Secretary of SEWA, spoke at the International Trade Union Confederation’s fourth World Women’s Conference held on November 16th, in Melbourne, Australia. Sister Jyoti addressed the importance of Universal Social Protection and also on the important role of Waste Recyclers in the Circular Economy as part of a just transition.

At ITUC’s 5th World Congress also held in Melbourne, Australia, from November 17th-22nd, 2022, Sister Manali Shah of SEWA and HNI International Working Committee Member, dedicated her speech in the Congress Plenary to home-based workers precarious conditions around the world, especially women home-based workers, who’s struggles have worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Sister Manali mentioned, “In an ILO study conducted in the year 2019, there were over 260 million home-based workers around the world and this number almost doubled during the pandemic. It represents 7.9 % of global employment. As per a study on the impact of COVID-19, within the informal economy, home-based workers were the worst affected and are still finding it difficult to recover. Their supply chains have been disrupted leading to irregular work and income which is as low as two percent of the pre-Covid earnings.”

She added that ILO Convention 177 (Home Work Convention), to this day, has very low ratification (only 13 countries), leaving many home-based workers, mostly women, legally unprotected, further reducing their chances to recover.

“We urge ITUC to adopt a Global 12 by 12 Campaign on ratification of ILO Convention 177 in 12 months in 12 countries. Women home-based workers around the world are in a state of despair and have a sense of urgency” stressed Manali, as she finalised her address.

SEWA, the single largest informal economy women workers trade union in India and HNI Affiliate, was elected in the ITUC Council and also in ITUC’s Women’s Committee on its global seat.