Market Safety a priority as stakeholders convene
Date: Friday, October 5, 2018
LAUTOKA, Fiji — Ensuring markets are safe for all users is a top priority, as expressed by market stakeholders during a meeting convened in Lautoka, which discussed market safety issues in Fiji. Discussions were based on the findings of a safety and discrimination assessment exercise conducted in Fiji markets by UN Women Markets for Change (M4C) Project.
The meeting, which concluded yesterday, was organized by UN Women in partnership with the Ministry of Women and the Ministry of Local Government and brought together a cross-section of stakeholders including the Department of Social Welfare - Child Services Unit, Department of Women's Affairs, Fiji Police Force, Ministry of Local Government, senior management from Municipal Councils and markets and 12 Market Vendors’ Associations Presidents and representatives.
“Markets are places that bring everyone together, and are key to economic security for communities, so it’s important to keep these spaces safe,” said UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office Representative a.i., Nicolas Burniat.
“It is very encouraging to see all the relevant stakeholders, from the ministries to the Police and market vendors coming together and being committed to working in partnership to support the well-being, safety and dignity of women market vendors,” he said.
The safety and discrimination assessment exercise was designed to encourage women market vendors and key market management, security and infrastructure staff to discuss their experiences related to being safe in their respective markets. The assessment provided stakeholders the opportunity to identify risk factors within and around market spaces, and highlighted gaps in response and support networks.
Some of the issues highlighted in the assessment include various forms of harassment, bullying, theft and pick-pocketing as well as violence against women.
Along with sharing experiences and discussing safety issues highlighted in the report, the meeting aimed for stakeholders to work together to find solutions to the challenges and to jointly develop a plan on how to implement these solutions.
The meeting objective was to ensure that municipal markets in Fiji are safe, inclusive, and non -discriminatory and promote social and economic empowerment of market vendors, with specific attention to the needs and aspirations of women market vendors.
Permanent Secretary for Ministry for Local Government, Housing and Environment Joshua Wycliffe said the Government was also concerned about safety and the need to protect the vendors in their workplace.
“Thank you for your partnership and for flourishing the local economy, you play a very strong role in the economy of Fiji,” he said.
“Markets are the footsteps of the local economy… we need to protect what we have as it will help us grow further. Protect, secure it and grow it.”
UN Women’s Markets for Change (M4C) project is a key component of its Women’s Economic Empowerment programme. M4C is a multi-year, multi-country initiative that aims to ensure marketplaces in rural and urban areas of Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu are safe, inclusive and non-discriminatory, promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment. A UN Women project, M4C is principally funded by the Australian Government, and since 2018 the project partnership has expanded to include funding support from the Government of Canada. UNDP is a project partner.
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UN Women’s Markets for Change project
UN Women’s Markets for Change project: UN Women’s Markets for Change (M4C) project is a key component of its Women’s Economic Empowerment programme. M4C is a multi-year, multi-country initiative that aims to ensure marketplaces in rural and urban areas of Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu are safe, inclusive and non-discriminatory, promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment.
A UN Women project, M4C is principally funded by the Australian Government, and since 2018 the project partnership has expanded to include funding support from the Government of Canada. UNDP is a project partner.
Between 75-90 per cent 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. M4C 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.