unctad.org | Gender-sensitive policy recommendations to support women cross-border traders in Malawi, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia
Gender-sensitive policy recommendations to support women cross-border traders in Malawi, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia
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Informal cross-border trade has been a major feature of African economies since the colonial era. It contributes to job creation, especially for vulnerable groups such as poor women and unemployed youth, and food security through the trade of agricultural products.

Supporting the growth of informal crossborder traders’ trade capacity and their gradual integration into formal trade would help boost trade and the private sector, contributing to overall development goals. Informal cross-border trade is characterized by the predominance of female traders.

This is mainly due to women’s limited time, mobility, and access to productive resources and support systems, leaving them with few options and making such trade the main or even only source of livelihood for them.

Despite their critical role in cross-border trade, women often benefit only marginally from their trading activity due to a number of factors, including policy, institutional, cultural, economic, and regulatory issues.

In the framework of its project on Informal cross-border trade for empowerment of women, economic development and regional integration in Eastern and Southern Africa, UNCTAD’s Trade, Gender and Development Programme has developed an analytical report that examines cross-border trade in Malawi, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia, focusing on women traders; three booklets which present key information on existing trade procedures and simplified trade schemes, documentation requirements, rules of origin, taxes and tariffs meant to informal and small-scale cross border traders; and this advocacy document.

The document puts forth policy recommendations and introduces an implementation framework based on the findings of the analytical report.

The aim of the advocacy document is to lay out targeted policy recommendations accompanied with relevant stakeholders for implementation.

The policy framework aims to support the empowerment of women informal (and small-scale) traders and help them formalize and diversify their economic activities in these three countries, promote local ownership of the policy targets and facilitate follow-up.

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