More than 120 market vendors from Ba, Rakiraki and Tavua markets were recognised on Tuesday June 2 for their active participation in a series of “Getting Started” workshops, held in December 2014 and February 2015, aimed at helping them work together towards making positive changes to their marketplaces.
Vendors received certificates from Honorable Rosy Akbar, Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation and Karinda D’Aloisio, Deputy Australian High Commissioner, at a ceremony in Ba attended by stakeholders and invited guests. T
he “Getting Started” workshops are part of the Markets for Change project, a six-year, multi-country initiative that aims to ensure marketplaces in rural and urban areas of Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu are safe, inclusive and non-discriminatory, promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment.
The project is principally funded by the Australian Government.
A key focus of the workshops is to form and strengthen market vendor associations, which are important avenues for vendors to engage in marketplace decision-making and ultimately to contribute to improvements to market conditions.
Women often face a number of challenges when trying to take up leadership positions, including long-standing male office holders with established networks and relationships, as well as a perception that men are more credible leaders.
To help address some of these barriers, the “Getting Started” workshops focus on how vendors can build and maintain democratic organisations that effectively represent all their members. This includes skills sharing on recruitment, constitution strengthening, choosing the right kind of leaders, and processes to ensure men and women equally participate in decision-making.
At the ceremony, Hon. Rosy Akbar emphasised how important it is for men and women to work together to improve their working environment.
“The Ministry of Women is always supportive of projects such as this [Markets for Change] as it promotes gender equality and socioeconomic empowerment of market vendors, especially through paying special attention to the needs and aspirations of women market vendors.” Ms D’Aloisio congratulated the market vendors and wished them well in implementing the action plans resulting from their training.
“The Getting Started Workshops were designed to help market vendors come together, get organised and decide on priorities that will benefit all. This is an important starting place for creating the change we want to see. We all benefit from an inclusive, happy and thriving marketplace.”
UN Women’s Deputy Representative and Officer in Charge at the Fiji Multi-Country Office, Nicolas Burniat said it was fantastic to see the enthusiasm with which market vendors have embraced the workshops and how motivated they are to work together to make changes that benefit them all.
“Through the Getting Started workshop UN Women is helping market vendors to work together, decide collectively their priorities and take action to make positive changes in the market place. I’m glad to see many market vendors engaged in strengthening their association, accessing information on market management and developing leadership skills. M4C is a great platform to improve market environment for everyone who use it, but particularly for women.”
Among the market vendors receiving certificates at Tuesday’s event was Varanisese Maisamoa, who has been a market vendor for 10 years and is currently President of the Rakiraki Market Women Vendors Association.
“Women market vendors contribute substantially to market revenue,” Ms Maisamoa explained. “We should be part of the decision-making processes related to the marketplace.
The Getting Started workshops have really broadened our understanding and roles as market vendors, especially for us women vendors.
The training has enabled us to expand our business and gain new knowledge and experiences from other market vendors.” She added that women market vendors contribute substantially to market revenue and they should be part of the decision-making related to the marketplace.
The Getting Started workshops have now been held in all 10 Markets for Change market sites in Fiji, already resulting in the establishment of one new market vendors association and the reinvigoration of a number of others.
Financial literacy training for market vendors, delivered in partnership with UNDP and Westpac, has been rolled out across the country, as well as communications and leadership workshops for the executive committee members of existing market vendors’ associations.