By: Rachael Josiah, Intern at URAC. Email: email@example.com
As part of the ACIAR funded research project of Urban Food Loss in Mzuzu City, Mzuzu University and URAC organized a one-day workshop to train women traders in market by-laws and cooperative formation during which a city wide market committee was established.
The training, held at Mphatso Motel, was organized under the Africities research project in line with key results of the study which revealed that women are underrepresented in market committees meaning that they are not actively involved in market governance and decision-making around the trading of fresh foods. The results showed that women traders have less capital and profit returns which puts them at a disadvantage in competing with men for higher positions in market committees. As a starting point, women traders needed to be trained in market by-laws so that they are aware of the functions and composition of market committees as well as eligibility for someone to be elected into the committees.
The first part of the training workshop was facilitated by Mr Yona Simwaka who is Acting Director of Planning and Estates Services at Mzuzu City Council. Up to 25 women selected from all markets in the city participated in the training.
The second part of the training drilled women on how to form cooperatives. The training on cooperative formation was facilitated by Mr. Dyton Siyeni a value chain specialist and Africities research team member based at URAC. The aim of the training was to encourage women to form cooperatives so that they can have easy access to business loans and other benefits of working together.
At the end of the training, 15 women were elected to the Mzuzu City Markets Committee. At least one representative was drawn from each market in the city. The committee was tasked to review the market by-laws and other regulations by engaging with other traders and based on their review the Mzuzu Full Council would be requested to consider revisions of the market bylaws so that they promote good governance and ease collection of revenue from traders. The committee will also start lobbying for changes in the market by-laws to allow for women’s inclusion in market governance and women empowerment in Mzuzu city markets.
The elected committee members are; Lucy Mtambo (Chairperson) from Main Market, Rontia Harawa (Vice-Chairperson) from Mathabwa Market, Secretary Jolly Mwamatandala from Luwinga Market, Rachael Chimaliro (Vice secretary) from Ching’ambo Market and Jostina Soko (Treasurer) from Chibavi Market. Ten other women were elected as committee members.
The research team is expected to undertake an evaluation study to learn the impact of the citywide women’s committee on market governance in the city. For more, visit: www.aciar.gov.au