Lusaka, Friday, March 8, 2019: Two events were conducted at the COMESA Secretariat to mark the 2019 International Women’s Day. These were: a dialogue with the small-scale cross border women traders organized by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in collaboration with COMESA Secretariat and the government of Zambia on March 7, 2019.
The second was the celebration COMESA women staff to acknowledge their contribution to regional integration. The two events were conducted separately on March 7, 2019, the eve of the International Women’s Day (March 8, 2019).
About 50 women involved in diverse types of small-scale cross border trade from and around Lusaka, Zambia were invited to share experiences on issues that affect them when conducting cross border trade.
“We are here to recognize and celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women across various sections,” Mrs. Kayula Siame, Permanent Secretary in Zambia’s Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry said during the opening of the meeting.
She described the meeting as a unique opportunity to dialogue with women small scale traders on pertinent issues affecting their trade.
COMESA Assistant Secretary General in Charges of Programmes Dr Kipyego Cheluget urged more women to get involved in trade to empower themselves and contribute to poverty reduction.
“Many women still face disproportionate lack of access to resources and opportunities to trade across borders and often have challenges in accessing education, trade information, credit, adequate women friendly services at borders and low visibility as women traders,” he said.
In her statement, Ms. Marianne Lane, the IOM Chief of Mission said there was growing recognition at the global, regional and national levels of the linkage between migration and trade.
In line with this year’s theme of ‘Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change’, she said her organization is supporting innovative ways of enabling women to succeed in trade. A mobile App known as the MigApp developed by the IOM was presented at the event. The App is one of IOMs innovative platforms aimed at filling the existing information gap.
Appreciating the recognition accorded to women cross border traders, the Vice General Secretary of the Cross-Border Traders Association (CBTA) Ms. Christine Phiri said:
“Platforms of this nature give us the privilege to share testimonies, encourage and motivate one another on how best we can support the common effort of women cross border traders.” She was represented by the CBTA Gender and Trade Specialist Mrs. Veronica Mwaba.
COMESA in collaboration with the Ministry of Trade, the IOM and other key stakeholders are implementing EU-funded COMESA Small Scale Cross-Border Trade programme Initiative. The programmes seeks to increase formal cross border trade by promoting trade facilitation measures and tools such as the Simplified Trade regime (STR).