In rural and outer island territories of the Pacific, in which most economies are semi-subsistence, markets are integral to the livelihoods of both rural and urban communities. Women dominate these marketplaces, but more often than not have little say in the management of these markets and few facilities for their safety or comfort. In order to increase the economic activities of these women, and thereby pave the way for more empowered opportunities for women and their communities, UN Women in the Pacific initiated a Markets for Change (M4C) project. With activities ranging from improving the physical infrastructure of marketplaces to providing training sessions to increase socio-economic security of market vendors, UN Women in Pacific use Akvo Flow to capture data on the actual improvements in these marketplaces.
Above: Vika (left) from UN Women in the Pacific interviewing a market vendor at Nausuri market in Fiji, October 2016. Photo by Lissy van Noort.
According to the UN, between 75% and 90% of small-market vendors in the Pacific are women. Working conditions are often difficult, with long working hours and low profits being an everyday reality for many women in Fiji, Vanuatu and Solomon Island. As a result, women remain in economically disadvantaged positions and have fewer opportunities to initiate positive change in their communities and their lives. The M4C project implements a number of activities to improve the working conditions in these marketplaces, and needed a tool that would enable the collection and monitoring of high quality data.
UN Women in the Pacific started working with Akvo Flow to capture and monitor data on the improvements made in the marketplaces in Fiji, Solomon Island and Vanuatu. Akvo team members from the Southeast Asia and Pacific hub trained data collectors on creating surveys in Flow and managing data, so that they could go out and interview market vendors.
Fiji’s M4C team superseded their target by 70%, interviewing 305 vendors in just under three months.
Improvements to the infrastructure of the marketplaces included building fences to prevent theft, constructing covers to protect from bad weather, and providing sanitation facilities for the comfort of the women. UN Women in the Pacific also focused on empowering women vendors to participate in marketplace governance and decision-making, giving them more influence over how their places of work are run and organised.
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