Recognizing the importance of women in the key issues that Nigeria and ECOWAS are committed to addressing, Life Impact Foundation International (LIFI) has recently prepared a position paper on the Women and Cross-Border Trade Project in Nigeria. LIFI argues that women cross-border traders are driving forces in alleviating poverty, ensuring food security, and generating employment.
Important though they are, most of these women remain in the informal sector where they are not recognized and do not benefit from policies meant to facilitate trade in the region. Although ECOWAS has implemented a set of protocols to reflect the decisions of heads of state, enforcement of these policies has been found wanting. Because of this, significant challenges faced by women-cross border traders remain including lack of information regarding trade protocols, transport constraints, lack of access to finance and networks, and extortion of all kinds.
To address the problem, LIFI has developed several recommendations for action that will help shift the way all actors of the cross-border trade community view these women:
- Officially recognize the significance and needs of women as contributors to national and regional trade and development in trade policy and export promotion
- Develop cross border trade facilitation programming targeted at women traders
- Empower women traders through greater access to horizontal and vertical business linkages, information, skills and resources
- Build capacity among border officials toward gender sensitive professional practice, standards and accountability
- Initiate multi-sectoral approaches that will support the facilitation of women’s cross-border trade
As the position paper states, “moves towards regional economic integration for the purposes of economic and human development cannot ignore the role of women cross-border traders.” Only when informal women traders enjoy the same access to markets, opportunities, and ability to operate in the formal sector, will the region truly realize trade openness and substantial regional economic growth.
Read the full Position paper here.
Thanks to Eniola Dada for sharing this paper.
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