Turning the tide of rural poverty in Zambia through women
- According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), the informal sector accounts for 72 percent of employment in sub-Saharan Africa. In Zambia, it accounts for 80 percent and women represent a majority of them, according to the country’s draft Decent Work Country Programme.
- As a pilot initiative, 14 women were trained in handicraft-making. The efforts will be scaled up in the fourth quarter of 2013.
Trained by the African Management Services Company (AMSCO) – a business support enterprise, Florence Monde Mwauluka and 14 other rural craftswomen are looking forward to improving their livelihoods.
“I am extremely grateful for this program that supports rural women. Such support will help me focus my talents on the distribution, managing, and marketing aspects of my business,” said Mwauluka, a single mother with two children.
The training sessions were organized with support from Zambia’s Ministry of Gender and Child Development, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the British Department for International Development (DFID).
The craftswomen were taught to create quality international standard miniature models of Zambia`s traditional products such as the Likishi, a customary Zambian dance costume shirt and mask, as well as indigenous beadwork and basketry.
Artisanal handicrafts produced by the women now form part of a brand, “Take Zambia home with you”, exhibited at the 20th General Assembly of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), co-hosted by Zambia and Zimbabwe in August 2013.
“UNDP will support Zambian women to address challenges in setting up their businesses. Women tend to reinvest a significant portion of their incomes back into their families and communities,” said UNDP’s Country Director in Zambia, Viola Morgan while touring the handcrafts exhibition stands in Lusaka during the training.
Lack of access to credit opportunities and gender barriers have long contributed to Zambian women’s exclusion from becoming entrepreneurs. In spite of these barriers, a group of rural female artisans from diverse communities in Zambia are now well on their way to self-employment and are even becoming able to speak out in their communities. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), the informal sector accounts for 72 percent of employment in sub-Saharan Africa. In Zambia, it accounts for 8o percent and women represent a majority of them, according to the country’s draft Decent Work Country Programme.
The document states that they are often exposed to “personal, financial, economic and social risks and vulnerabilities resulting from their need to find employment and generate income”.
Gender and Child Development Minister, Inonge Wina stated that her ministry was keen to work with women, especially those from the rural areas because they had been sidelined for a long time even though most artists, artisans and tourism attractions were found in the rural areas. “This training not only provides an overview of the existing potential among women involved in handcrafts production in Zambia, but also an entry point for women’s self-employment opportunity”, she added.
Despite the challenges ahead of their entrepreneurial career, Florence Monde Mwauluka and 14 other rural female artisans appeared to have entered into the handicrafts business with global ambitions – wanting to supply international markets with their products. They are fully aware that to do this, they must, among other things, form cooperatives to enable them produce handicrafts on an industrial basis, and with an increased level of quality, in order to meet the demands of the external markets.