19th November 2015
African Women’s Development Fund validates Market Women’s Research Study: Accelerating the Contributions of Market Women to National and Regional Development in West Africa
Accra, GHANA – The African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF) has called on West African governments to enact policies supporting market women at both national and regional levels following a new report analysing conditions of market women in four West African countries.
The report entitled “Accelerating the Contributions of Market Women to National and Regional Development in West Africa,” is based on field research of market women in Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. It aims to boost support for market women and to recognize the pivotal role they play as development stakeholders on the continent.
“This study represents yet another milestone in achieving gender justice for those women who still experience marginalization despite their immense contributions to the economies of their countries,” Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf said in the report’s foreword.
The study identifies three main channels through which market women can strengthen their voice and advocate for policy changes: internal market associations; mainstream labour organizations and national and regional advocacy and rights-based organizations.
The report singles out development partners as being particularly well placed to support market women by enhancing their coalitions and network-building. In this regard, the fact that market women serve as an integral part of the expanding informal economy in countries across West Africa, and in some cases trade beyond their national borders, presents opportunities for enhancing their contributions to regional development, the report said.
The report recommends the adoption of a “regional lens” relevant for policy formulation in the interests of market women. Whilst acknowledging the significance of the launch of the Ecowas Free-Trade area in 2010, the report nonetheless calls for additional policy interventions to streamline cross-border trading procedures and address specific challenges facing women who are engaged in this trade.
Other recommendations included supporting the establishment of a West African market women’s association to facilitate on-going dialogue with policymakers, expanding and adapting the SMWF model to the four countries to respond to some of the challenges identified by market women through the research study, investing in training for market women leaders, and the institution of a scholarship scheme for children of market women.
The report was conducted by a team commissioned by the African Women’s Development Fund, in cooperation with the Sirleaf Market Women’s Fund and was funded by the Ford Foundation /West Africa. In addition the team received technical and institutional support from the African Women’s Development Fund.
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The Sirleaf Market Women’s Fund (SMWF)
The Sirleaf Market Women’s Fund (SMWF) is an international, independent, charitable organization committed to restoring the livelihoods of Liberian market women and women farmers, as investing in them means investing in Liberia’s future. It was established in 2007
The Ford Foundation (West Africa) focuses on projects that promote democratic values and engage citizens in advocating for their social and economic rights. It funds scalable programs that stimulate private enterprise, with a focus on developing small- and medium-sized businesses. The foundation also funds regional projects that help strengthen regional integration across West Africa.
The African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF)
The African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF) is a grant-making foundation that supports local, national and regional women’s organisations working towards the empowerment of African women and the promotion and realisation of their rights.
The vision of the AWDF is for women to live in a world where there is social justice, equality and respect for women’s human rights.