Market access is crucial to poverty alleviation, yet it remains a significant challenge in Myanmar, especially when women are concerned.
ActionAid has drafted the Access to Market Handbook, which aims to provide practical tools in seeking better ways for producers to connect with the market. Based on this ActionAid conducted a 5-day workshop on Access to Market: Gender Sensitive Value Chain Training of Trainers in the Dry Zone from 30 November to 4 December 2015.
The training aimed to explore access to market methodologies through a gender sensitive lens in order to reshape the dynamics of markets and create win-win collaborations between suppliers and buyers. The 38 participants from 17 countries all had profound experience working with communities on access to market. Thus, the training also served to generate feedback and enrich this living document for future learning.
One participant, Sunita from Nepal, raised the concern of women’s unpaid work: “when working with the communities, it’s important to do the exercise again and again, because people reflect and learn. For example, when doing the cost analysis, we need to calculate the time women actually spent on weaving and meanwhile bear in mind their unpaid housework at home.”
Marcia from Mozambique pointed out the challenges producers face in a globalised world: ”access to credits and finance is difficult especially for women, and local producers are struggling in an unfair competition with cheaper imported goods. Moreover, due to limited skills and market information, the price is often decided by clients, leaving little space for producers to negotiate.”
In the context of Myanmar, the reform process is expected to pave the way for a liberal market with more space for the private sector to operate and for foreign investment to increase in the coming years. However, insufficient market information and limited knowledge and skills raise the risk of exploitation, especially for the majority living in rural areas. To maximise the opportunities brought by such change, ActionAid Myanmar has taken several initiatives to enhance the sustainability of communities by diversifying sources of livelihood and creating a model of entrepreneurship, which will not only be profitable but also lead to social change.
Using a Human Right Based Approach (HRBA) ActionAid acknowledge that market access is a critical right that everyone is entitled to. Particularly women’s participation in such processes should be addressed.