Board of

Directors
Renana Jhabvala
SEWA, India (Chair)

WIEGO statement for New York City Council hearing on File # Int. 1303-2016
relating to expanding the number of available food vendor permits & other matters

Juliana Brown Afari
StreetNet
International, Ghana

October 25, 2016

Barbro Budin
International Union
of Food and Allied
Workers (IUF/UITA),
Switzerland
Debra Davis
Independent
Consultant, UK
(Treasurer)
Ravi Kanbur
Cornell University,
USA
Lin Lim
Independent
Consultant, Malaysia
William Steel
ISSER, University of
Ghana, Ghana
Jeemol Unni
Institute of Rural
Management, Anand
(IRMA), India
Carmen Vildoso
Municipality of Lima,
Peru

[Speaker: Thomas Coggin, attorney of the High Court of South Africa and global cocoordinator of the International Research Group on Law and Urban Space, speaking on
behalf of WIEGO.]
Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO) is a global
network of membership-based organizations of the urban working poor in the informal
economy, spanning 84 countries. For twenty years, WIEGO has worked with organized
street traders all over the world. Our testimony offers the global context for this bill.
It is now widely recognized that informal livelihoods and small-scale enterprises are here
to stay. They form the broad base of urban employment not only in countries of the
Global South but also increasingly in the Global North. Street traders represent as much
as 24 per cent of total urban employment in some cities today.
Urban policy-makers and city planners throughout the world are now recognizing street
vendors for the valuable economic contributions they make. Street vendors create their
own employment; generate demand for larger enterprises including suppliers,
wholesalers, and others; and provide affordable goods at convenient locations for
residents of all socioeconomic classes. In other parts of the world, these and other smallscale livelihoods are referred to as “the people’s economy.”
Four international agreements issued in the past year-and-a-half demonstrate this
recognition:
First, Sustainable Development Goals 1, 5, 8, and 11 commit nation-states to ensuring
that all people, in particular the poor and vulnerable – as well as women and migrant
workers – have equal rights to economic resources, safe and secure working
environments and inclusive public spaces (Annex 1).
Second, the International Labour Organization’s Recommendation 204 (June 2015)
recognizes the need for Member States to ensure the preservation and improvement of
existing livelihoods, respect workers’ fundamental rights, and ensure opportunities for
income security, livelihoods and entrepreneurship (Annex 2).
Third, the September 2016 report issued by the first-ever UN Secretary General’s High
Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment identifies the need for a legal shift
moving from stigmatization and criminalization of informal workers (such as street
Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing
Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University, 79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 U.S.A.
Tel: 617-496-7037 | Email: wiego@wiego.org
www.wiego.org

Board of
Directors
Renana Jhabvala
SEWA, India (Chair)
Juliana Brown Afari
StreetNet
International, Ghana
Barbro Budin
International Union
of Food and Allied
Workers (IUF/UITA),
Switzerland
Debra Davis
Independent
Consultant, UK
(Treasurer)
Ravi Kanbur
Cornell University,
USA
Lin Lim
Independent
Consultant, Malaysia
William Steel
ISSER, University of
Ghana, Ghana

vendors) to the assurance of rights and protection, including regulated access to public
space as workplaces (Annex 3).
And finally, the New Urban Agenda – adopted in Quito, Ecuador just last week –
commits UN Member States to prioritizing “equal access for all to public goods, as well
as inclusive public spaces…where the needs of all inhabitants are met, recognizing the
specific needs of those in vulnerable situations” (Pars 13a and 13b).
The New Urban Agenda also envisions equal access for all to economic and productive
resources and opportunities (par. 14b), pledges that “no one be left behind” (par. 27), and
commits to promoting inclusive public spaces that are multi-functional areas for social
interaction and inclusion, as well as economic exchange. Directly supporting the
inclusion of street vendors, the New Urban Agenda supports the provision of quality
public spaces and streets “fostering local markets and commerce, both formal and
informal.” And directly supporting street food vendors, it commits Member States to
promote the “marketing of food to consumers in adequate and affordable ways.”
By expanding the number of food vending permits, and establishing a street vendor
advisory board with the representation of street vendors on it, the bills before the New
York City Council would bring New York into line with other cities in the world that
recognize the economic, social and cultural importance of street food vending, and the
need for inclusive urban planning practices.

Jeemol Unni
Institute of Rural
Management, Anand
(IRMA), India
Carmen Vildoso
Municipality of Lima,
Peru

Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing
Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University, 79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 U.S.A.
Tel: 617-496-7037 | Email: wiego@wiego.org
www.wiego.org

Board of
Directors
Renana Jhabvala
SEWA, India (Chair)
Juliana Brown Afari
StreetNet
International, Ghana
Barbro Budin
International Union
of Food and Allied
Workers (IUF/UITA),
Switzerland
Debra Davis
Independent
Consultant, UK
(Treasurer)
Ravi Kanbur
Cornell University,
USA
Lin Lim
Independent
Consultant, Malaysia

Annex 1: Sustainable Development Goals (pars. 1.4, 5a, 8.8 and 11.7)
1.4. By 2030, ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable,
have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership
and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources,
appropriate new technology and financial services, including microfinance
5a. Undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources, as well as
access to ownership and control over land and other forms of property, financial services,
inheritance and natural resources, in accordance with national laws
8.8. Protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all
workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in
precarious employment
11.7. By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and
public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with
disabilities

William Steel
ISSER, University of
Ghana, Ghana
Jeemol Unni
Institute of Rural
Management, Anand
(IRMA), India
Carmen Vildoso
Municipality of Lima,
Peru

Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing
Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University, 79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 U.S.A.
Tel: 617-496-7037 | Email: wiego@wiego.org
www.wiego.org

Board of
Directors
Renana Jhabvala
SEWA, India (Chair)
Juliana Brown Afari
StreetNet
International, Ghana
Barbro Budin
International Union
of Food and Allied
Workers (IUF/UITA),
Switzerland
Debra Davis
Independent
Consultant, UK
(Treasurer)

Annex 2: International Labour Organization Recommendation No. 204 (Excerpts)
Preamble (page 4, par. 1)
Recognizing the need for Members to take urgent and appropriate measures to enable the
transition of workers and economic units from the informal to the formal economy, while
ensuring the preservation and improvement of existing livelihoods during the transition
1. This Recommendation provides guidance to Members to:
(a) Facilitate the transition of workers and economic units from the informal to the formal
economy, while respecting workers’ fundamental rights and ensuring opportunities for
income security, livelihoods and entrepreneurship

Ravi Kanbur
Cornell University,
USA
Lin Lim
Independent
Consultant, Malaysia
William Steel
ISSER, University of
Ghana, Ghana
Jeemol Unni
Institute of Rural
Management, Anand
(IRMA), India
Carmen Vildoso
Municipality of Lima,
Peru

Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing
Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University, 79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 U.S.A.
Tel: 617-496-7037 | Email: wiego@wiego.org
www.wiego.org

Board of
Directors
Renana Jhabvala
SEWA, India (Chair)
Juliana Brown Afari
StreetNet
International, Ghana
Barbro Budin
International Union
of Food and Allied
Workers (IUF/UITA),
Switzerland

Annex 3: UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Women’s Economic
Empowerment (Excerpt)
(Page 5) For informal workers, the legal shift involves moving from stigmatization and
criminalization to the assurance of rights and protection. Actions that are being
undertaken, often in response to collective action, include legal recognition as workers,
regulated access to public space as workplaces, freedom of association and collective
bargaining, and access to social protection.

Debra Davis
Independent
Consultant, UK
(Treasurer)
Ravi Kanbur
Cornell University,
USA
Lin Lim
Independent
Consultant, Malaysia
William Steel
ISSER, University of
Ghana, Ghana
Jeemol Unni
Institute of Rural
Management, Anand
(IRMA), India
Carmen Vildoso
Municipality of Lima,
Peru

Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing
Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University, 79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 U.S.A.
Tel: 617-496-7037 | Email: wiego@wiego.org
www.wiego.org

Board of
Directors
Renana Jhabvala
SEWA, India (Chair)
Juliana Brown Afari
StreetNet
International, Ghana
Barbro Budin
International Union
of Food and Allied
Workers (IUF/UITA),
Switzerland
Debra Davis
Independent
Consultant, UK
(Treasurer)
Ravi Kanbur
Cornell University,
USA
Lin Lim
Independent
Consultant, Malaysia
William Steel
ISSER, University of
Ghana, Ghana
Jeemol Unni
Institute of Rural
Management, Anand
(IRMA), India
Carmen Vildoso
Municipality of Lima,
Peru

Annex 4: The New Urban Agenda (Excerpts)
We envisage cities and human settlements that…
“Progressively achieve …equal access for all to public goods and quality services.”
(Par. 13(a))
“Prioritize safe, inclusive, accessible, green and quality public spaces…where the
needs of all inhabitants are met, recognizing the specific needs of those in vulnerable
situations.” (Par. 13(b))
14. To achieve our vision, we resolve to adopt a NUA guided by the following
interlinked principles:
“Sustainable and inclusive urban economies, by…promoting full and productive
employment and decent work for all, ensuring job creation and equal access for all to
economic and productive resources and opportunities.” (Par. 14(b))
27. “We reaffirm our pledge that no one will be left behind, and commit to promote
equally shared opportunities and benefits that urbanization can offer, and enable all
inhabitants, whether living in formal or informal settlements, to lead decent, dignified,
and rewarding lives and to achieve their full human potential.”
37. “We commit to promote safe, inclusive, accessible, green and quality public
spaces…that are multi-functional areas for social interaction and inclusion, human
health and well-being, economic exchange, and cultural expression and dialogue among
a wide diversity of people and cultures.”
57. “We commit to promote, as appropriate, full and productive employment, decent
work for all, and livelihood opportunities in cities and human settlements, with special
attention to the needs and potential of women, youth, persons with disabilities,
indigenous peoples and local communities…particularly the poorest and those in
vulnerable situations.”
59. “We commit to recognize the contribution of the working poor in the informal
economy, particularly women, including the unpaid, domestic, and migrant workers to
the urban economies, taking into account national circumstances. Their livelihoods,
working conditions and income security, legal and social protection, access to skills,
assets and other support services, and voice and representation should be enhanced.
A progressive transition of workers and economic units to the formal economy will be
developed by adopting a balanced approach, combining incentives and compliance
Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing
Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University, 79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 U.S.A.
Tel: 617-496-7037 | Email: wiego@wiego.org
www.wiego.org

Board of
Directors
Renana Jhabvala
SEWA, India (Chair)
Juliana Brown Afari
StreetNet
International, Ghana
Barbro Budin
International Union
of Food and Allied
Workers (IUF/UITA),
Switzerland

measures, while promoting preservation and improvement of existing livelihoods. We
will take into account the specific national circumstances, legislations, policies, practices,
and priorities for the transition to the formal economy.”
92. “We will promote participatory age- and gender-responsive approaches at all stages
of the urban and territorial policy and planning processes, from conceptualization to
design, budgeting, implementation, evaluation, and review, rooted in new forms of
direct partnership between governments at all levels and civil society, including
through broad-based and well-resources permanent mechanisms and platforms for
cooperation and consultation open to all.”

Debra Davis
Independent
Consultant, UK
(Treasurer)

100. “We will support the provision of well-designed networks of…quality public spaces
and streets…fostering local markets and commerce, both formal and informal.”

Ravi Kanbur
Cornell University,
USA

123. “We will promote…marketing of food to consumers in adequate and affordable
ways to reduce food losses and to prevent and reuse food waste.”

Lin Lim
Independent
Consultant, Malaysia
William Steel
ISSER, University of
Ghana, Ghana
Jeemol Unni
Institute of Rural
Management, Anand
(IRMA), India
Carmen Vildoso
Municipality of Lima,
Peru

Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing
Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University, 79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 U.S.A.
Tel: 617-496-7037 | Email: wiego@wiego.org
www.wiego.org