Over the past 15 months, SIHA Network has been engaging, empowering and building the capacity of women street vendors through training, advocacy and establishment of cooperatives. SIHA has established 3 cooperatives, registered under Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism and namely: SHIRAAQLE, HANA- QAAD and KHAYR cooperatives. Each cooperative has its own administration and structure.
Street vending is a source of livelihood for masses of women of whom most are unskilled and illiterate new arrivals to Hargeisa and other cities in Somaliland; street vending has provided employment and income generation for the great number of people penetrating the informal economy as vendors of small businesses due to the recurrent droughts and climate change in Somaliland. In addition to this, employment opportunities in the formal economy are often denied to women because many lack skills and have assumed household tasks due to social and cultural obstacles. Consequently, the informal sector is often the only possibility for women to get access to employment and to earn an income.
Women’s increasing engagement in public spaces of the informal economy is continuously punctuated by violence, marginalization and censorship. SIHA realized the plight of these women, also seeing that there were a few actors targeting this group – with this, SIHA has prioritized capacity-building and advocacy initiatives – allowing the women to raise their own issues to the local leaders and local authorities.
With SIHA’s work with these women cooperatives, now women can access to justice and got registration certificates but waiting for local government license for recognition, SIHA is glad that will approach next few months to retain the license for the local government
During this period of International Women’s Day – we recognize that women street vendors continue to play an important role in Somaliland’s economic development thus contributing significantly to revenue generation and creation of job – providing alternative sources of income, particularly for women. Their small businesses also provide low-cost products to mainly low-income factions in the country. Somaliland, Street vending is fundamental to livelihoods of the urban poor sector and beyond. According to a baseline study conducted by SIHA, it states that the income from Hargeisa, Somaliland’s women in the informal sector accounts for over 60% of the total local government income.
Some of the issues the street vendors would like to draw to the attention of the leaders and government are:
We condemn and denounce the brutality of the local government and police officers for their merciless treatment towards the women street vendors who are trying their best to earn a living in this informal economy. Women street vendors are frequently discriminated in jobs, and ignored in economic productivity, despite their extensive connections and contributions to the formal economy of the country;
Women lack political and economic power and the government does not safeguard the rights of women street vendors; and instead of regulating them, local government officials and police officers treat women street vendors in an inhumane manner and as irritants –their actions and policies are aimed more at removing and harassing them rather than at regulating and promoting their well-being.
SIHA recognizes the importance of being registered through cooperatives for more credibility and legitimacy. SIHA also appreciates the role of the line Ministry, Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism that has recognized the role of the women street vendors’ cooperatives and issued the certification. This has facilitated and enabled women street vendors in Somaliland to leverage the cooperative advantage for women street vendors’ economic empowerment.
SIHA and the women street cooperatives jointly make the following recommendations and demands:
Hargeisa local government ought to support women street vendors whilst fostering reasonable development in order to improve the lives of the population’s most vulnerable communities;
We urge the government and local leaders to put in place safety and protection mechanisms such as an enabling policy framework that ensures more safety and protections for women working in these sectors, including, and not limited to street vendors, petty traders, and domestic workers.
As women street vendors, we will continue to network and jointly raise these issues to the leaders and government like the need for better working conditions;
Any necessary inquiry please avail to
SIHA –NETWORK-Somaliland office
Mr, Nuradin Mohamed Abi
Area coordinator – S/land country