Trade Forum Features

Trading for a better tomorrow

7 March 2016
ITC News
In Benin, women play a crucial role in trade, moving goods across the borders and selling them at the markets

For several years, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has worked towards mainstreaming gender into the organization’s daily work. This is true for its dedicated ‘global’ Gender, Trade and Development Programme, as well as for its many smaller projects. UNCTAD also works to encourage its member states to maintain a gender balance, for example in their cabinets and in their national trade facilitation committees.

During a mission to Benin I had the opportunity to visit Ganvié, the lake village near Cotonou, as well as Hillacondji, which serves as the main border crossing point with neighbouring Togo. With my camera I was able to document the importance of women to trading system, witnessing how they move goods across borders and ensure that they reach markets.

At the border there were mainly women selling either imported goods, items for export or services, materials, food and drinks for trading agents. Meanwhile, in Ganvié men are usually preoccupied fishing, while women take the lead at the market, selling fish, fruit, drinks, fuel and other goods to ensure they can provide for the basic needs of their families. In both places I saw women trading and mothering at the same time. These are some of the people I met, trading in Benin and across its borders.