NOMSA NKANA, Lusaka
COMMON Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), in collaboration with Government and other stakeholders, has implemented a programme which will increase security at border crossings for women traders.
COMESA Assistant Secretary General Ambassador Kipyego Cheluget said the programme, which is called the Simplified Trade Regime (STR), will lead to higher income for small-scale cross-border traders, majority of whom are women.
“The programme will also enhance increased security at border crossings-especially for women traders, ensure adequate and relevant trade-related information and provide gender- sensitive basic facilities such as sanitation and accommodation among others,” Dr Cheluget said.
He said these are powerful tools to empower women and that small-scale cross-border trading (SSCBT) is one of the most important sources of employment among self-employed female folk in the COMESA region.
Ambassador Cheluget said facilitating this trade for women can contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goal number 8 which states that ‘Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all’.
He said it is no secret that women play a major role in the global economy and that they invest more in their families than men do, in areas such as education, health and nutrition, creating a secure foundation for the future of their families and communities.
And CBTA vice-general secretary Veronica Mwaba said an economically challenged society has the potential to be greatly empowered by cross-border trading.
Ms Mwaba said unlike the old times when women would be confined to household chores, a new testament has been introduced where women have an opportunity to be independent and flourish.
“Women have the potential to establish businesses that can compete favourably without any gender barriers. All we have to do is to be innovative and strategic. We are not born equal but we have equal rights,” she said.
Ms Mwaba urged women to stand strong and fight for their rights as women small-scale cross-border traders.
NOMSA NKANA, Lusaka