Time and Location

Monday, 7 October 2019, 19:00 – 21:00
ÖGB-Catamaran, RIVERBOX, Johann-Böhm-Platz 1, 1020 Vienna (U2 Donau Marina)


Panel discussion with

Lorraine Sibanda, President of Streetnet International - Alliance of Street Vendors, Gwanda, Zimbabwe

Karin Pape, Deputy director and coordinator of WIEGO - Women in Informal Economy: Globalizing and Organizing, Berlin/Manchester

Rose Omamo (to be confirmed), Präsidentin der Mechaniker*innen Gewerkschaft, Nairobi, Kenya

Moderation: Rita Isiba, Aphropean, Vienna/London

ÖGB/weltumspannend arbeiten
Sybille Straubinger, VIDC

An event for World Day for Decent Work 2019
in cooperation with the Austrian Trade Union Federation (OGB) and weltumspannend arbeiten

Languages: English and German with simultaneous interpretation

Registration: schmidjell@remove-this.vidc.org

Or by clicking on eventbrite

Silenced? Women's struggles in Africa's informal economy



In Africa, 70 to 90 percent of workers are engaged in the informal economy. Typical sectors are household work, street trade, catering, transport and agriculture. For a long time, the informal economy was seen as a temporary phenomenon on the way to modernisation. But new forms of the informal economy have emerged in the global supply chains and so-called special economic zones. There, labor laws and norms are often bypassed to survive in the worldwide competition for the cheapest production conditions.

Even in European countries where labor standards and social protection have been fought, deregulation and unsafe working relationships are on the rise. Take, for example, the digital economy, the agricultural sector or the temporary work.

Why is the informal economy a constant in global capitalism? Why are women more affected by informal work and what does it mean for family life? How can formal employment relationships with living wages, social security and occupational health measures be strengthened? What successes have brought the struggles of initiatives of street workers and unions?


Lorraine Sibanda

is President of the Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Associations (ZCIEA), which includes street vendors, construction workers, garbage collectors, and other informal economy workers. Since 2016, she has also chaired StreetNet International, an international umbrella organization with 52 affiliates from 48 countries in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe. StreetNet represents over half a million market and street vendors. Lorraine Sibanda works through union organizing for the rights of workers in the informal economy, for improving their entrepreneurial skills and for access to social services. She studied pedagogy at the University of Zimbabwe and worked as a teacher from 2004 to 2006.

Karin Pape

works Deputy Director for the Organisation and Representation Program) and European Coordinator at WIEGO (Women in Informal Economy: Globalizing and Organizing). Her expertise includes informal and precarious work, home and household work, international trade union work and ILO issues (International Labor Organization). From 2007 to 2009 she was a consultant at WIEGO. Afterwards,  she worked for two years as an international coordinator at the IDWN (International Domestic Workers Network). In 2011, Karin Pape returned to WIEGO and coordinated the associations of domestic workers in Europe. She was instrumental in founding the International Domestic Workers Federation (IDWF). She is a trained economist.

Rose Omamo

is the General Secretary of the Amalgamated Union of Kenya Metal Workers. She trained as a mechanic and started out working as an assembler but as one of only two women working with hundreds of men she realised that the only way to defend her rights was to stand as a shop steward. Soon she was known as 'Mama Union.

Rita Isiba

is a moderator and communication expert. In 2016, she founded Aphropean Partners, a specialised communication agency to provide consultants, decision-makers, NGOs and government agencies a natural extension of marketing to streamline the process of change management for the future of work, cultural and gender diversity management in the workplace and society. Previously, she has worked for various UN agencies, marketing agencies and investment banks, including leading to West Africa. Rita Isiba graduated from Hertfordshire University, England with a degree in Business and European Studies and Masters of Business Administration at the Heriot-Watt University (both in the UK). She obtained a certification in business consultancy by Oxford College.

Information material (will follow after the event)

  • Videointerviews
  • Photo gallery