Exploring innovative solutions to extend social protection to vulnerable women workers in the informal economy

Authors Elmarie Fourie

ISSN: 2413-9874
Affiliations: Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
Source: Industrial Law Journal, Volume 37 Issue 2, 2016, p. 831 – 846


Informal employment is now a reality and is estimated to comprise more than one half of non-agricultural employment in most regions of the developing world. In many of these regions, it is a primary source of non-agricultural employment for women. Female informal workers are not recognised, regulated or protected by labour legislation or social protection measures and can be characterised by varying degrees of ‘dependency’ and ‘vulnerability’. Social protection plays a critical role in realising the human right of social security for all, in reducing poverty and inequality, and in supporting inclusive growth. When considering the protection of these informal workers it is of the utmost importance to explore the design and implementation of innovative and tailor-made solutions, considering for example the nature of their work and their workplace. A sustainable integrated approach should include their legal and economic empowerment. The importance of voice and representation in the provision of protection to informal women workers needs to be highlighted as well as the existence of workers’ organisations for such workers, both at national and international levels.