Registration signals positive change ahead for Vanuatu market vendors



Port Vila, Vanuatu - Port Vila Market vendors in Vanuatu’s capital Port Vila are looking forward to improvements in their work place as registration of the country’s first fresh-produce market association takes effect this week.

The Treasurer of the Silae Vanua Market Vendors Association, Janes Kalo signs the founding constitution, Port Vila Central Market, Vanuatu, May 15, 2015. Photo: UN Women/Murray Lloyd

The Silae Vanua Market Vendors Association (Silae Vanua) has gained certification under the Charitable Associations (Incorporation) Act. This gives the association legal standing to engage in decision-making, and agree on improvements and operating conditions with market managers and the municipal council in charge of the Port Vila Central Market.

Women make up over 90 per cent of Silae Vanua which includes vendors from off-shore islands around the main island of Efate. In total around 1,000 market vendors are represented by the association.

Registration of Silae Vanua follows large celebrations at the signing of the association’s founding constitution attended by more than 200 people at the Port Vila Central Market on 15 May 2015.

Silae Vanua spokeswoman, Salomè Perkonè says the association is focused on growth, with a recruitment drive next on the agenda.

“Over time we hope to build up the skills and resources to represent our members in any market in Vanuatu where Silae Vanua membership is represented,” she says.

Silae Vanua was set up as a result of “Getting Started” workshops held in Vanuatu in late 2014 as part of UN Women’s Markets for Change project. The workshops focus on supporting market vendors in getting organised so they can take part in the decision-making processes that govern their workplace; an important part of this process is forming and running representative, inclusive and democratic associations.

Celebration cake at the signing of the founding constitution of the Silae Vanua Market Vendors Association, Port Vila, Vanuatu 15 May 2015. Photo: UN Women/Murray Lloyd"

Markets for Change International Project Manager for Vanuatu, Begona Vazquez, says many members of Silae Vanua lost their homes and gardens when Category 5 Cyclone Pam devastated the islands in the south-east of Vanuatu on 13 March 2015. She says it is testament to their determination that work on the founding constitution and incorporation of Silae Vanua maintained momentum in the months following the cyclone.

“This is an exciting step ahead for all market vendors in Vanuatu. Participating in economic activities, such as selling surplus produce at the markets, allows women to effect positive change in their own lives and their communities, with ripple effects for the whole nation,” Ms Vazquez says

“We look forward to working with the association and local government counterparts to establish market places that support women’s economic aspirations, are safe, inclusive, and accountable to the needs of women.”

The Executive members of the Silae Vanua Market Vendors Association and the Paramount Chief Poilapa, representing the Vaturisu Council of Chiefs, cut the celebration cake after signing the association’s founding constitution, Port Vila Central Market, Vanuatu, 15 May, 2015. Photo: UN Women/Murray Lloyd

Markets for Change is principally funded by the Australian Government and aims to strengthen women’s economic security and rights in market places throughout Vanuatu, Fiji, and the Solomon Islands. The six-year initiative includes three markets sites in Vanuatu – Port Vila, Luganville and Marobe – as well as five Shefa Province ring road markets.

Media enquiries

Fiona Morris
Markets for Change Vanuatu Communications Officer
UN Women
Phone: (+678) 25910 Email:


UN Women’s Markets for Change project is a key component of its Women’s Economic Empowerment programme. The six-year, multi-country initiative aims to ensure that marketplaces in rural and urban areas in Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu are safe, inclusive and non-discriminatory, promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Between 75% and 90% of vendors working at Pacific marketplaces are women and their earnings often make up a significant portion of the incomes of many poor households. Despite this, women are often excluded from market governance and decision-making. Markets for change works with stakeholders, service providers and the market vendors themselves to: build and support inclusive, effective and representative advocacy groups; deliver appropriate services, training and interventions; ensure women’s voices are heard and taken into account at the decision-making level; and to improve physical infrastructure and operating systems.

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has provided AU$10 million to support the implementation of the Markets for Change project.

About UN Women and the Multi-Country Office (MCO) in Fiji

The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) was created at the July 2010 United Nations General Assembly. A global champion for women and girls, UN Women was established to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide. The MCO covers 14 Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs): Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. The Fiji MCO works with four key programmes: Women’s Economic Empowerment; Ending Violence Against Women; Advancing Gender Justice in the Pacific; and Increasing Community Resilience through Empowerment of Women to Address Climate Change and Natural Hazards Programme to progress with gender equality and women’s empowerment in the Pacific.

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