In First Summit with International Business & Government Leaders, Essential Workers to Discuss Framework for Just COVID-19 Recovery


*Tune into Day 2 of the Summit at 13:00 GMT at*

London, UK, Sept. 09, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Wednesday, Sept. 8 marked the opening day of the first-ever global summit of essential workers. Participants from around the world tuned in to a powerful conversation about an economic recovery that prioritizes essential workers, especially women in the informal economy.

“Universal social protections for essential workers are no longer a choice for governments; it is a very necessary move for governments to take,” Lorraine Sibanda, president of StreetNet International, an international alliance of street vendors, told the crowd.

The Essential for Recovery summit, which runs from September 8 through September 10, brings together essential workers from North and South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia with global business and government leaders to discuss a framework for a just economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. The event centers the demands of care workers and the 61% of workers worldwide who labor in the informal economy, including domestic workers, agricultural workers, street vendors, and home-based workers.

“Home-based workers contribute around $300 billion to the economy, but they don’t get any benefit out of it. We are part of supply chains but we are not recognized as contributors to the supply chains,” said Saira Feroze of the Home-Based Women Workers Federation, on Day 1 of the summit.

The first day of the innovative summit brought together diverse voices from across the globe. Martha Chen, a lecturer at Harvard and senior advisor to Women in Informal Employement: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO), interviewed Rosheda Muller, president of the South African Informal Traders Alliance, on how street vendors are organizing globally. Legendary South African labor leader Myrtle Witbooi spoke with Maina Kiai, senior official at Human Rights Watch and former United Nations Special Rapporteur. And actor and activist Martin Sheen and actress Yalitza Aparicio made special appearances.

“COVID-19 taught us the importance of all workers in different sectors, recognizing that they deserve decent work and are important in the global economy. Governments know about this issue, but what are they doing about it?” asked Aparicio, who was nominated for an Oscar for her performance in the 2019 movie Roma.

Day 2 of the event on Thursday will focus on the fight against inequality, sexual harassment, and abuse in the workplace. Guests include: Rosa Pavanelli, the General Secretary of Public Services International, interviewing “Mama Union” Rose Omamo, leader of the Kenyan metal workers union; journalist Xanthe Scharff interviewing Mercedes D’Alessandro, feminist economist and Argentine government official; and journalist Reena Ninan interviewing business leader Brid Gould of Sodexo.

About Essential For Recovery:

The Essential for Recovery Summit is led by non-profit labor organizations — including  HomeNet International, International Domestic Workers’ Federation, International Trade Union Confederation, Solidarity Center, StreetNet International, UNI Global Union, and Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing — and supported by the Open Society Foundations.

Open Society Foundations 

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