UN Women hosts transformative Market Vendors Forum in the Solomon Islands

14 June 2024
The Market Vendors Association (MVA) Forum, organised by UN Women to empower women market vendors, took place from June 11 to 13 in Honiara, Solomon Islands.
Image Source    UNWomen

Honiara, Solomon Islands – The Market Vendors Association (MVA) Forum, organised 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 emphasised their support for women in markets, recognising that women’s economic empowerment is critical for achieving gender equality. “We recognise that markets are crucial for both communities and the national economy. 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.

UN Women Solomon Islands Country Programme Coordinator Alvina Erekali emphasised 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 honouring 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.

UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office (MCO)UN Women is the global champion for gender equality, working to develop and uphold standards and create an environment in which every woman and girl can exercise her human rights and live up to her full potential. The UN Women Multi-Country Office (MCO) based in Fiji, covers 14 Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs): Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. The Fiji MCO works to progress gender equality and women’s empowerment in the Pacific through four key programmes: Women’s Economic Empowerment; Ending Violence Against Women and Girls; Women’s Political Empowerment and Leadership; and Gender and Protection in Humanitarian Action.