The Markets for Change program significantly reduces the risk of sexual and physical violence against women who have stalls in the marketplace, reduces the likelihood of theft, strengthens the economic role that women have in their family and community economy, contributes to the reduction in poverty, and provides a mechanism for women to participate in decision making processes that affect them and their livelihoods.
Between 75 and 90% of market vendors in the Pacific region are women. The hours are long, the profits are often low, and conditions are difficult. Women often come from rural areas and they sleep at the market for three to four days, exposing them to higher risks of violence and theft.
The Markets for Change program is already having an impact. Roofing, secure accommodation for rural market vendors, toilets and clean drinking water, are making markets safer and responsive to the needs of vendors who travel long distances to sell their produce and crafts. Markets for Change program workshops focusing on women’s leadership and participation, marketing, financial literacy and entrepreneurship are resulting in women increasing sales, increasing their representation in market committees and exercising their voice to ensure their needs are heard and prioritised when it comes to allocating market fees to improve economic opportunity, safety and health and wellbeing of market vendors.
This six year multi-country initiative is principally funded by the Australian Government as part of the Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development initiative. Since 2018 the project partnership has expanded to include funding support from the Government of Canada and is currently running in Fiji, the Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu.
IN MY OWN WORDS: ROSE STARLYN, SOLOMON ISLANDS
“I’ve been working at Honiara market for about 10 years. I am a tailor; I make and sell clothes at the market six days a week…The money I earn from the market helps my children go to school; it pays for their school fees and bus fares.
I think small changes can make a big difference. We can make a market that is a happy place for everyone, that is healthy for everyone, where more people can come, and market vendors can earn more money…” Rose Starlyn.
Rose took part in M4C’s Getting Started workshops in April 2014 and is the newly elected chairperson of the Honiara Central Market Vendors Association.