Six women leaders of market vendor associations (MVA) from Vanuatu, Fiji and Solomon Islands have been sharing their personal stories of hardship and success at the 13th Triennial Conference of Pacific Women and 6th Meeting of Pacific Ministers for Women in Suva, Fiji.
These women, through their MVAs, are leading, representing and advocating for the needs of all market vendors, specifically women, working in the informal economy with support from UN Women’s Markets for Change (M4C) project – principally funded by the Australian Government.
“Though people see market vendors as ordinary women, their contribution in terms of the money earned and contributed to the economy is very important,” said Maureen Sariki, President of Honiara City MVA in Solomon Islands.
“With this project, I see myself as a business woman – I no longer look down on myself – I am happy,” said Janet Ramo, President of the Auki MVA.
Varanisese Maisamoa, President of Rakiraki MVA in Fiji, was instrumental in ensuring that women’s needs were also incorporated into municipal markets building plans and structures after Tropical Cyclone Winston destroyed the market in February 2016.
Reflecting on the M4C project, Ms Maisamoa said “these trainings really open our minds and build our confidence – what we couldn’t do before, we now know the way, because we are educated.”
“As a market vendor, as a woman, M4C has changed my life, the way I see my work, my colleagues and my working environment – I am stronger, bold – I am much better than before,” said Ms Maisamoa.