By: Stella Abah, Gender, Social Inclusion, & Community Engagement Advisor, IHP Kebbi State, Nigeria

Everyone has the right to live and work free from violence and harassment. In spite of this, violence and harassment against women in the world of work is present in all jobs, occupations, and sectors of the economy in all countries around the world.

Furthermore, in most countries where sex-disaggregated data is available, the number of women in informal employment far outnumbers that of men. The feminization of poverty, combined with discrimination by gender, age, ethnicity or disability, means that the informal economy comprises the most vulnerable and marginalized groups of society. Additionally, gender inequality is more prevalent in the informal economy, where women are concentrated in lower-quality jobs.

Informal sector workers experience job insecurity, have lower salaries, work in poorer conditions, and have fewer protections to begin with. Additionally, women working in the informal sector face more gender-specific vulnerabilities, such as increased debt, joblessness, lower salaries, reduced expenditures on health and education, and higher exposure to abuse and violence, compared to their peers working in the formal sector.

For all these reasons, female informal economy workers are particularly vulnerable to violence and harassment. Within the informal employment sector, we must develop positive strategies, policies, and practices to combat various forms of discrimination as well as violence and harassment.