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VISET Commemorates International Women’s Day

Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) joins the world in celebrating International Women’s Day which is running under the theme ‘Choose to Challenge’ this year.

The theme is meant to challenge inequalities, call out bias and stereotypes against women. International Women’s Day is also a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

For VISET as an organization that represents informal sector workers, the majority of whom are women, from street vendors and domestic workers to subsistence farmers and seasonal agriculture workers, women make up a disproportionate number of workers in the sector. In South Asia, over 80 per cent of women in non-agricultural jobs are in informal employment, whilst in Sub-Saharan Africa, 74-85 per cent are also in the sector according to United Nations estimates.

Working in the informal economy, leaves women often without any protection of labour laws, social benefits such as pension, medical aid or paid sick leave. They routinely work for lower wages and in unsafe conditions, including risk of sexual harassment. The lack of social protections has long-term impact on women, as they have no pension and are hence forced to work well into ordinarily pensionable age.

In Zimbabwe, the day of the female informal worker begins on average at 3 AM with the need to secure water resources for the family and prepare meals, then off to markets to order for the day and begin trading, often with babies on their back. They are at times forced to flee from law enforcement officers, whilst those involved in cross border trading ensure long periods of time from home in unpalatable conditions in foreign lands, at times enduring long bus rides and harassment at border posts, all this to try and provide for their families.

Many people in Zimbabwe owe their education and subsistence to money earned by mothers in vending and subsistence farming and so on this International Women’s Day we salute all the hard working women and hope as a country we can commit to making the lives of women in our country easier through greater provision of basics such as running water and electricity as well as education access for the girl child.

VISET would also like to urge enforcement agencies such as municipal authorities and police to adopt gender sensitivity in their operations and at policy level to ensure the legalization of street vending where the majority of women earn a living.

Wishing a happy International Women’s Day to all the women of the world.

Prepared by VISET Information and Publicity Department

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