UN Women hosts transformative Market Vendors Forum in the Solomon Islands

UN Women hosts transformative Market Vendors Forum in the Solomon Islands

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The Market Vendors Association (MVA) Forum, organized by UN Women to empower women market vendors, took place from June 11 to 13 in Honiara, Solomon Islands.

Over 80 market vendors from MVAs in Auki (Malaita), Gizo (Western), Munda (Western), Honiara (Guadalcanal), and Buala (Isabel) gathered for the three-day forum to engage in reflection, training, awareness, networking, and learning.

The forum aimed to enhance the capacities of MVA executive members by facilitating knowledge exchange with their counterparts from other provinces, providing training in important skills such as proposal writing and conducting awareness sessions with key partners.

Mr. Tristan Armstrong, Counsellor of Human Development at the Australian High Commission in the Solomon Islands, spoke during the opening ceremony.

He emphasized their support for women in markets, recognising that women’s economic empowerment is critical for achieving gender equality. “We recognize that markets are crucial for both communities and the national economy.

Counsellor of Human Development at the Australian High Commission, Mr. Tristan Armstrong during the forum. Photo: UN WOMEN

In the Solomon Islands, like many Pacific Island countries, a significant portion of the population lives in rural areas and relies solely on markets to buy and sell essential supplies for their families. Therefore, programs like this profoundly impact everyone in the Solomon Islands,” he said.

Participants also had the opportunity to evaluate the current status of their respective MVAs and identify areas for improvement through various interactive sessions.

The forum is a pivotal event under the Markets for Change (M4C) project, which promotes gender equality through the economic empowerment of women market vendors in Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu. The second phase of M4C is implemented by UN Women in partnership with UNDP and the Government of Australia.

Participants at the forum. Photo: UN WOMEN

UN Women Solomon Islands Country Programme Coordinator Alvina Erekali emphasized the critical role of MVAs, highlighting their importance as the voice of market vendors and their role in fostering relationships and networks with market management and government entities.

She stated, “Our focus today is not just on enhancing capacities but also on fostering women’s leadership. We are committed to intergenerational leadership, empowering younger women to take up leadership roles while honoring the experiences and wisdom of the older generation. This dynamic interchange ensures that our leadership remains vibrant and inclusive, fostering continuous growth and empowerment for all women involved.”

Gizo MVA Chairlady Lauretta Nasala stated that the MVA Forum provided important training for vendors, including skills such as proposal writing.

“I’m very happy to return to our Gizo MVA and take back what we got from this forum. We were able to learn and share our challenges and experiences with the other MVAs. There are solutions they have that work for them, which we didn’t know about, and there are things we know that we can share with them,” she said.

ENDS//

– UN WOMEN

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