Lídia Puigvert has been invited to an “Exposure Dialogue on Law & Informality” in Ahmedabad, INDIA from January 27-February 2nd., 2013.


Organized by the WIEGO network, HARVARD University –Jackie Bhabha, Lucie White and Marty Chen. which is also the International Coordinator of WIEGO Network and the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) of India.

 The purpose of the Exposure Dialogue was to examine the legal framework and system through the lens of the lived reality of informal workers.  The participants included a) well-known judges who have addressed issues of economic rights in their courtrooms but have not been exposed to the working conditions and legal challenges facing the working poor in the informal economy; b) lawyers who are working on legal cases and strategies for the working poor; c) academics and activists who work on issues of economic rights of the working poor; and d) SEWA organizers who know the ground-level reality of - and have experience in pursuing legal cases and other strategies in support of – the working poor. They were from six countries:  Colombia, Ghana, India, Peru, Thailand, and South Africa.

 The goal of the proposed series of Exposure Dialogues is to promote a better understanding of:

 a) The lived reality of those who work informally, live in informal settlements, and/or are informal citizens;

b) The gap or mismatch between existing legal and regulatory frameworks and the legal needs and demands of informal workers, informal settlement dwellers, and informal citizens; and

c) Innovative strategies to reform or implement existing laws to match the lived reality of informality, including efforts that involve informal communities in these reforms.

The exposures will also provide an opportunity for the exposure hosts to voice their legal needs and demands.  Through this enhanced understanding, the broader objectives are to get judges and legal advocates to better understand the challenges to implementing human rights obligations – especially economic and social rights - in the context of informal employment, settlements, and citizenship and to integrate the legal needs and concerns of informal communities into legal reforms and policy dialogues.

The Exposure Dialogue has being hosted by the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), the largest trade union in India whose members are all working poor women in the informal economy. The local hosts have been SEWA members from two occupational groups – street vendors and waste pickers – whose legal rights and demands were the focus of the Exposure Dialogue.

The SEWA-WIEGO-Cornell Exposure Dialogues between mainstream economists, grassroots organizers, and researchers has proven effective at bridging the gap between neo-classical economic theory and economic reality. Irrespective of their disciplinary background, all of the EDP participants agreed that the present development and poverty debate largely neglects the world of informal work. But this took time and a series of exposure dialogues.  It is hoped – indeed expected – that the proposed SEWA-WIEGO-Harvard Exposure Dialogue with judges, legal advocates, lawyers, academics and activities will start a similar process that will bridge the gap between the lived reality of informal communities and the mainstream legal discourse regarding economic and social rights.


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