Organizing and Empowering Women Workers in the Informal Economy

A project on organizing informal economy workers through a rights-based approach towards economic empowerment.


A vast majority of the female labour force in Asia is in agriculture, where it is mostly unorganized, unaware of its rights, and victims of poor living and working conditions. In India, 80 per cent of the rural workforce comprises women, who perform the bulk of the low-paid, low-status, non-permanent jobs. Women are often denied equal wages, even minimum wages, even minimum wages. During the 1990s, an ILO project in two phases was operational first in the four southern states of India and then in Indore district of Madhya Pradesh. In 2003, the Project started its activities once again in Tamil Nadu. This project is funded by the Government of Norway.


  • Holistic and total empowerment of women in all phases of life through training in building self-confidence and leadership skills.
  • To contribute to trade unions playing an active and constructive role in the socio-economic development of their respective organizations.
  • Strengthen capacity of trade unions in defending the rights and interests of workers in general and of their members in particular.


  • Enlarged membership of the cooperating rural workers' organizations.
  • Capacity building of partners to initiate and support self-help groups (SHGs) and other socio-economic schemes for and by members.
  • Capacity building of SHGs and individual members in getting access to various government assistance and credit schemes.
  • Make trade unions conversant with principles of International Labour Standards (especially those relevant to rural workers and women) and ILO's Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.
  • Involve women more in the development process and make them more active in society matters through better involvement and representation in trade unions.