WORKSHOPS to support Auki market vendors in working together have ended this week with encouraging plans to strengthen vendors’ voices in market governance and enable positive changes for everyone.
The two series of three “Getting Started” workshops, which took place in Auki in June and at Honiara Central Market in May, are the first of their kind and are aimed at bringing market vendors together so they can organise themselves.
The workshops are part of UN Women’s Markets for Change (M4C) Project in Solomon Islands, which was officially launched last month.
Participants at the Auki workshops worked together to identify priorities and form an action plan to help ensure the marketplace is safe, clean, inclusive and good for trading.
The action plan identifies steps needed to establish a market vendors association and various strategies to ensure it is representative of all market vendors.
Almost 50 of the 59 participants were women, reflecting the fact that between 75 and 90 per cent of market vendors across the Pacific are women.
The dominance of rural and urban women market vendors in Pacific marketplaces makes it essential that women are supported to participate in and take on leadership positions in marketplace groups, as well as provided with opportunities to speak up about the specific hardships they face in their everyday work.
One of the focuses of the M4C project is to support market vendors in establishing strong marketplace groups that advocate for vendors’ rights and interests.
The M4C project will also focus on supporting marketplace groups, market management, and local governemnt to work meaningfully with each other on making improvements to marketplaces.
At the closing of the workshops on Tuesday 10 June Women’s Development Desk Officer Clera Rikimani congratulated the market vendors who participated in the workshop and told them “While market vendors are often not recognised, in this setting you are recognised. … Today I feel humbled and proud of you all”.
Auki Market vendor Joy Janet Ramo also spoke at the closing ceremony saying, “This workshop is new—everything is new. We learnt how to organise, how to form associations, and how to address issues.”
Joy encouraged other vendors by asking, “and why not if Auki market becomes a model market in the Pacific?”
The closing was also attended by Acting PS, Malaita Provincial Government, Selwyn Vasoni, who reiterated Malaita Provincial Government’s support of the M4C programme.
The six-year regional M4C project is also being rolled out in Fiji and Vanuatu, and is made possible through funding from the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
In Solomon Islands, UN Women will work in close partnership with Honiara Central Council and Malaita Provincial Government, as well as market vendors from Honiara Central Market and Auki Market.
At the opening of the “Getting Started” workshops in Auki, Market Manager Mr Matthew Kuri said that as this is a Pacific project there would be valuable opportunities to learn from marketplaces in Solomon Islands as well as from other Pacific countries.
In May 67 vendors took part in the “Getting Started” workshops at Honiara Central Market. During these workshops vendors also made the decision to form a market vendors association.
UN Women is now working with vendors from both markets on the steps needed to make this happen.
Speakers at the closing of the Getting Started workshop in Auki celebrate the workshops with cutting a cake. From Left to Right: Joy Janet Ramo, Auki Market Vendor, Clera Rikimani, Women’s Development Desk Officer, Malaita Provincial Government, Mathew Kuri, Auki Market Manager, Malaita Provincial Government, Selwyn Vasoni, Acting PS, Malaita Provincial Government.