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Towards Decent Work in the Informal Sector: The Case of Egypt

Publisher: Employment Sector International Labour Office Geneva
Author: Alia El Mahdi
Type: Report
Date: 2002
Keywords: Globalization, Liberalization, Privatisation, Migration, economic policies
Location in CRTDA:
This report is one of a series of papers that were commissioned under the auspices of the ILO Inter-Sectoral Task Force on the Informal Economy in preparation for the general discussion on the informal economy at the 90th International Labour Conference (ILC) in Geneva in June 2002. The papers in this series include studies of regional trends, selected country level studies and thematic investigations at the global level. Most of them seek to identify new trends and patterns that have emerged over the last several years and to go into more depth regarding the factors underlying the continuing growth of the informal economy, not only in developing countries, but also in advanced countries and countries undergoing transition. Particular attention has been paid to the impact of globalization, liberalization, privatisation, migration, industrial reorganization and macro-economic policies prompting these trends. The present paper, “Towards Decent Work in the Informal Sector: The Case of Egypt”, has been prepared by Alia El Mahdi, Cairo University. It focuses on two dimensions of informality which define the informal sector in Egypt: micro and small enterprises, and informal employment within formal sector enterprises (public and private). The author finds significant gender differences in both the formal and informal sector. Women have especially high rate of unemployment compared to men, face open discrimination in hiring in the private sector, and contribute (along with children) as unpaid family workers in over a fifth of the micro and small businesses. The author goes on to discuss various programmes and policies that have been tried over the years with varying degrees of success. Still, the vast majority of entrepreneurs and workers in the informal economy do not have access to credit, social security, health insurance or training.

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