Creating Safe Markets to Enhance Women’s Productivity

Date: Monday, September 9, 2019



Vending is one of the few readily accessible avenues of employment open to women who need to earn a living. Photo: Itayi Nikita Usaiwevhu UN Women


Most women in Zimbabwe are earning a living through trade which is conducted in places that do not have adequate safety and hygiene.Women entrepreneurs also fear violence in public spaces as they commute to their workplaces.

“We are being targeted by thieves who know that we will be having large sums of money from the flea market sales”, said residents of Epworth, the fifth-largest city in Zimbabwe by population and located 15km east of the capital city Harare.

A tour of Epworth Overspill Market , Zimbabwe held on the 29thof August 2019 was undertaken by stakeholders that included the Director for Small to Medium Enterprise Development in the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender, Community and SME Development, Francis Gondo, who said they are working with UN Women in mobilizing investments to increase safety and economic viability of public spaces.


Safe Market Stakeholders Zimbabwe02

Stakeholders take a tour of Epworth Overspill Market which has about 500 traders with the, the majority of whom are women

Photo: Itayi Nikita Usaiwevhu UN Women


“We have taken our stakeholders around to the market, so they appreciate and gather the experiences from the vendors. This input will now be incorporated into the design of the market by the Epworth local board.” Francis Gondo said.

Violence in public spaces infringes upon the rights and freedoms of women and girls as equal citizens and as such the safe market model aims at strengthening the capacity of local authorities. This model involves UN Women working with non-governmental organizations in building the capacity of local governments to invest in engendering urban planning, including public infrastructure, such as markets.  

Epworth Local Board is working on one of the three pilots ‘Safe Public Spaces Projects’ and the Director of Works Engineer Bernard Wiridzai said they are working to prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence.“We are looking forward to creating an environment where women traders as well as other traders work in a clean environment free from litter and with proper ablution facilities. We are working with UN Women who are assisting us in implementing this project so that we come up with a marketplace that is that is gender-sensitive and listening to their concerns we will also have a safe play center for the kids.”

UN Women is also implementing the Spotlight Initiative which aims at ending violence against women and girls by deploying targeted and large-scale investments to improve the lives of women and girls. The strategy also involves implementation of the Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces Flagship Programme to bring change through increased recognition of SGBV in public spaces and its impact.