Need: Call to participate in the project: Faces of the Informal Economy
In the first two weeks of March I will be holding a photographic exhibition at the London Islington Art Factory on the issue of the informal economy. I have been myself part of it and I started reflecting on it since my recent travel to Viet Nam. Despite being a Communist country I was moved by the lives of the numerous street vendors around the city of Hanoi. Mainly women, they walk all day to earn the equivalent of few dollars, carrying heavy weights to provide consumers with convenient and accessible goods and they form a vital part of the social and economic life.
Street vending is one of the most significant categories of informal work for women. The low costs of entry and flexible hours make street vending an attractive option; for many, it is the only option. Women street vendors typically earn less than men -- and in many countries, less than half as much as men (average of less than a dollar per day). Many of the working poor who enter street vending do so because they cannot find jobs in the formal economy and they face unique kinds of livelihood risks because of the legal, physical, and socio-cultural environment in which they work.
The problem of the informal economy is that the government doesn't regulate the workers that are part of it (home workers, street vendors, waste pickers and everyone who is working for cash-in-hand, without contract and rights). They usually have to work longer hours, they have no right to pensions and therefore no future. They have no sickness paid and they are forced to work also in bad physical conditions if they want to bring some money home. Often what they earn is very well below the living wage making hard to escape poverty.
This not only happens in the developing countries, but also in what we call the developed world. Illigal immigrants and aysilum seekers that cannot enter the formal economy, many of those working is small cafes (like myself, for £4 pounds an hour with no contract, no sick pay, no breaks, no rights), household cleaners etc...
This is a small project that aims to raise awareness on the informal economy issue and more specifically on women and workers rights, that wants to empower, link and describe the faces of all those workers internationally that struggle everyday for a low pay with no protection.
The exhibition will showcase pictures of street vendors in Viet Nam and a collection of stories of all of those who wants to participate in telling their own. Please inbox me with your stories and, if you like, add a picture of yourself. Please share and tell whoever you know that works in the informal economy, the more the voices the stronger the message. email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org