Meeting with Market Women and Street Vendors, 11/10/2017, Kolping Hotel
After the Public Dialogue “Uganda’s Informal Economy: An Engine of Development?” had been a platform for fruitful discussions on gender disparities and challenges to other vulnerable groups in the informal economy between different stakeholders, FES had decided to take further steps and organized a workshop for market women and street vendors. In cooperation with the Institute for Social Transformation (IST) and the Platform for Vendors in Uganda (PLAVU), a meeting with local and external experts had been set up on the 11th of October 2017 which was attended by about 100 Market Women and Street Vendors.
Jürgen Schwettmann, a former ILO official frequently working with FES, and Jessica Mwijuka of the Uganda Markets and Allied Employees Union (UMAEU) shared their experience on the social economy and implications for organizing in the informal economy. Jürgen Schwettmann also shared information on benefits and challenges of social security for informal economy workers, notably health insurance. Subsequently the participants discussed how and to what extent organizing can solve problems market and street vendors are facing and how social security measures could be suitable and sustainably implemented.
Firstly, more sensitization has to be done throughout markets and vendors to organize more workers and subsequently have more bargain power to resolve oppressing structures, such as the price- dominating vending mafia. On the other hand, it is seen essential to further secure working spaces for vendors and to extend trainings on worker rights and business administration to deliberately empower market women. This is to ensure that market women are economically emancipated, fear and sexual harassment at the workplace is ended and more women take on leading positions in the markets. In terms of social protection, one priority would be to sensitize vendors to consider social protection as important, as well as negotiations with implementing authorities to ensure the establishment of insurance schemes that are comprehensive and informal economy workers could easily access.
Lessons learned from the meeting: Organising combined with effective social protection measures are strong tools to empower and emancipate market vendors to change working conditions for good and sustainably ensure better business opportunities and living standards in the future.
FES and IST is currently organising further trainings and dialogues with market vendors in different parts of the country on organizing and sensitising for social protection to tackle the concerns raised in the meeting.
Link to the IST Website:
Link to the PLAVU Website: