Members of the Silae Vanua Market Vendors Association (SVMVA) convened at Moso Island for the past three days, sharing experiences as market vendors in the informal sector and ideas to better address their needs.

For these women residing in Port Vila and around Efate, selling garden crops, fruits and vegetables, cooked food to handicrafts and sewing is their only means of making ends meet.

They have fewer alternatives because they are not literate.

As sole breadwinners of their families, they work long hours and are often exposed to unsanitary conditions at the markets just to put food on the table and ensure their children complete education.

Women’s involvement in market support individual households. But, what people do not understand is that they also contribute largely to improve the country’s economic status by reducing poverty.

In Vanuatu, 80% of the market vendors are women and their contribution to national economy is yet to be fully recognized.

Coming together for the three-day International Day for Rural Women (IDRW) on Moso gave the women an opportunity to reflect on their economic role and also, to discuss issues they are facing particularly in their work places.

Climate change was highlighted as one of the main issue affecting well-being in terms of agricultural production, food security, health and water resources.

IDRW is also dedicated to celebrate the achievements of women in the business community. Some of these women started small and gradually become successful entrepreneurs and a inspiration for others.

Women vendors have been attending various training since Monday after the IDRW opening last Sunday, to empower them to become successful in their businesses.

One for example is financial literacy training which aims to get the vendors into the habit of savings.

Though they very little, it is important to know how to spend it wisely.

One of the main messages for the event is that a greater economic participation by women is crucial to make societies more prosperous.

This year’s IDRW is theme ‘Sustainable infrastructure, services and social protection for gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls’ is essential to fulfilling the vision of the Sustainable Development Goals.

SVMVA was initiated as a platform to unite vendors, give them a voice to raise their concerns to authorities and be part of decision makings.

Supported by the United Nation’s Markets for Change (M4C) Program, SVMVA has 32 sub-associations in Port Vila and around Efate with over 3,000 members.

SVMVA and M4C have been celebrating IDRW every year.

Last year’s IDRW was held at Mele Village.

This year’s event ends today.

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