A campaign aimed at raising awareness about challenges faced by women traders in the region has been launched by Trademark East Africa (TMEA), a regional trade facilitation organisation.
The Women and Trade campaign will highlight trade opportunities for women in business in a bid to increase inclusion and equitable access to trade opportunities, the organisation said in a statement. Under the theme, “Empowering women, powering trade”, the campaign will see TMEA engage policy-makers, development partners, business associations and other stakeholders in the region and beyond to create an inclusive and enabling environment for women traders, according to the statement.
“The campaign builds on a successful pilot phase of the Women and Trade programme that benefited over 25,000 women in the six East African Community (EAC) countries,” said Frank Matsaert, the TradeMark East Africa CEO.
Currently, women traders face many challenges, including discrimination at the workplace, unsupportive work environment, harassment, negative cultural and societal barriers, and lack of information and awareness, the official added.
“TradeMark East Africa is supporting women and trade programmes to ensure equitable access to trade opportunities by addressing gender-specific constraints, like unfavourable policies and procedures, limited access to market information and weak export capacity,” Matsaert said.
He added that 70 per cent of cross-border traders in East Africa are women, meaning that targeted intervention to enhance their trading opportunities is economically beneficial to the region. “Already, sensitisation campaigns conducted at select border crossing points coupled with improved border clearance processes have resulted to 50 per cent reduction in crossing time for targeted women,” the official added.
Matsaert said that this has enabled women to save time and costs associated with moving goods across borders. Adoption of similar measures across other border points in the region and beyond would multiply the impact, he added.
The organisation hopes to put a spotlight on the potential of women in trade and the opportunities that exist to invest in women.