Safe Markets For Women Vendors In Papua New Guinea

Women represent nearly 80 per cent of Port Moresby's market vendors are. For many of them, selling vegetables is their only source of daily subsistence, and yet markets are not a safe place for them.

In 2011, with support from the Spanish Agency for Development Cooperation (AECID), UN Women-Papua New Guinea Office, women’s grassroots organizations, the National Capital District Commission (NCDC) and other partners launched the Port Moresby Safe City Programme. It aims to improve market infrastructure and increase access of women market vendors to services and increase their economic empowerment. As a first catalytic result, a scoping study with local partners in the city in six marketplaces (Gerehu, Gordons, Tokarara, Malahuro, Waigani and Holola) was developed with programme stakeholders, which found that 55 per cent of women experienced some form of sexual violence in market spaces in the previous year. The study also revealed that women experienced robbery, abuse and extortion of fees on a regular basis.

The Programme was first implemented in Geheru market, where women-vendors participated in the design of new bathrooms and showers, market stalls with roofs and proper seating, and provision of potable running water for all market users. Moreover, a market vendor association has been established, and currently new innovative cashless methods for collection of fees are currently being implemented to prevent extortion; and a referral system for survivors of family and sexual violence in the markets is being piloted. Work is also underway in the second market, Gordons, the city’s busiest and largest market in the Pacific.

Additionally, two libraries will be opened in both markets, to provide opportunities for children, including those of the market vendors, in partnership with a local bank (Bank South Pacific), a children’s education initiative (Buk Bilong Pikinini), NCDC and UN Women. Many mothers need to take their children with them to the market, not having the means to put them in school or to pay for child care. The libraries will provide a safe space and learning environment for the children while their mothers work or shop.

This video illustrates how Port Moresby’s Safe City programme is making a breakthrough. Since the initial funding from AECID, Port Moresby’s Safe City Programme has leveraged additional funding from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the National Capital District Commission, the Australian National Committee for UN Women, among other partners.