Safe Market for Decent Work and Social Justice Targets Women Informal Traders

The Sustainable Enterprise Development for Women and Youth (SEDWAY) project, being implemented by ILO with support from the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Government of Zimbabwe (GoZ), and the Masvingo City Council is promoting gender equality through access to safe markets for women informal traders in the city’s high-density suburb of Chesvingo. This is intended to promote safe working environment for women in the informal economy especially, because, as the main participants in this sector, they have perennially been exposed to decent work deficits in the form of exposure to extreme weather conditions, clashes with local authority police, harassment by the public, lack of child-care facilities, and limited access to health-care due to their low income-levels.

News | 10 October 2023
The Chesvingo Safe Market initiative will improve the market infrastructure through construction of sheltered market stalls and access to water and sanitation facilities. The project will also improve the women’s access to health services because the Town Council has pledged to establish a satellite health centre and counselling services at the market as well as a play centre for their children. This should in turn help in arresting their time poverty and increase their economic output as they devote more time on their market stalls.

The safe market under construction
The AfDB's Country Manager for Zimbabwe, Moono Mupotola, and ILO’s Officer in Charge, Annamarie Kiaga, toured the safe market which is currently under construction together with the Mayoress of Masvingo, Her Worship Shantiel Chiwara, and other government officials.

“The thrust of this project is to empower women and to enhance efforts of fighting against gender-based violence within the community. The project offers safe workspaces for female traders while at the same time getting essential services for children and other services like counselling,” said Mayoress Chiwara.

Representing the ILO, Ms. Kiaga attributed the successful implementation to the synergy and collaboration between the various partners that are involved in the roll-out of the project.
Representing the ILO – Officer-in-Charge, Annamarie Kiaga and Moono Mupotola – AfDB Country Manager in a meeting with the Masvingo Town Council

“The impact of this project is poised to promote employment opportunities for women. We are not just creating jobs but bringing a sense of security, instilling dignity and a sense of purpose for their lives. Gender equality is at the centre of this project. We are resolute in dismantling the barriers that have historically limited women’s access to safe and decent workplaces,” she said. “Through this targeted initiative, we aim to empower women to foster economic independence and equality.”

Weighing in, Ms. Mupotola said that the project represented the aspiration of the AfDB to make an impact and improving the lives of Africans.
“This is a project that speaks to what the AfDB is all about in terms of improving people’s lives. The project will provide decent jobs to women, and we anticipate that the project will have great impact in Zimbabwe,” she said.

In Masvingo, as in many parts of Zimbabwe, women are at the forefront of the informal economy, and in Chesvingo high density suburb where the project is located, women ply their trade at roadsides, selling vegetables and various other wares. The women earning a living through informal trading which is conducted in places that do not have adequate safety and hygiene, and potentially exposes the women to gender-based violence.

Annamrie Kiaga; Moono Mupotola; Her Worship Shantiel Chiwara - Mayoress of Masvingo; Julia Mapungwana - Director of Programme Management in the Ministry of Women Affairs and several Town Councillors.

Ms. Julia Mapungwana, Director of Programme Management in the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development, credited the Masvingo City Council for availing land, construction supervision and providing labour as part of their contribution to the project.
“As government, we have started implementing similar projects of safe markets in other parts of the country. The safe market concept is about providing a gender sensitive space to our women. We need to be responsive in terms of gender issues. We have in the space a one stop centre where we will provide multiple services including legal, counselling, a victim friendly unit to survivors of gender-based violence. The space will be safe. As women will be engaged in their business, the children will be at the play centre,” she said, and added that collaboration between the various partners is key to the success of the project.

When completed, the project will enable the women traders work in a clean environment free from litter and with proper ablution facilities. Approximately 128 women have so far applied to take up spots in the safe market.

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