StreetNet International, a global alliance of street vendors and informal traders, along with Women In Informal Employment – Globalizing and Organizing, will organize a regional conference in Lagos, Nigeria, on 21-22 June 2023 to propose solutions to ensure social protection for informal economy workers.
Specifically, the conference aims to develop an African regional position on social protection for informal economy workers, as well as a follow-up action plan for regional activities, and to promote networking and alliance building between informal economy workers, the trade union movement and governments.
Social protection has been high on the agenda at the international and regional levels, especially ever since the pandemic exposed worrying gaps across Africa and beyond. Informal economy workers, although they provide essential services particularly to poor urban communities, were among the most vulnerable groups left without support. WIEGO and StreetNet International have been collaborating for the past 3 years on a programme focused on social protection in the sub-Saharan region, which has produced reports on worker-driven social protection schemes and resulted in an online social protection advocacy course. The regional conference in Lagos is the culmination of a process of capacity building, knowledge sharing and research to ensure social protection to informal economy workers.
“This project drawn on the respective strengths of the two organizations – WIEGO’s research and technical content expertise and Streetnet’s worker education expertise to deliver a set of interventions which we hope will help to systematize the social protection work of informal economy organizations in the Africa region” said Laura Alfers, Director of Social Protection Programme at WIEGO.
The conference will feature speakers from WIEGO, StreetNet, ITUC Africa and the African Platform on Social Protection, as well as representatives from governments. The conference will be hosted by the StreetNet affiliate in Nigeria, the Federation of Informal Workers Organizations of Nigeria (FIWON), which considers social protection to be one of their priorities at national and regional level.
“The Conference will mark a major milestone in our advocacy for social protection coverage of working people in the informal economy.” says Gbenga Komolafe, General Secretary of FIWON. “Hopefully, it will help to sharpen perspectives of what is possible and feasible for governments in Sub-Saharan Africa, in terms of providing practical, implementable schemes and programmes for informal economy workers to reduce vulnerabilities and socio-economic exclusion.