Kohima women vendors seek way through apathy barrier
Kohima, Nov. 14 (EMN): In the absence of any infrastructure and designated space for the women vendors to carry out their businesses especially in Kohima town, Nzano Kikon from Yimphan village, a vendor from BOC, Kohima on the occasion of International Street Vendors Day has appealed the state government to allocate space for the women vendors.
With the primary objective to create awareness among women vendors, and also acknowledge what they are doing, North East Network (NEN) in collaboration with Self Employed Women Association (SEWA) organized a programme to mark the day at Kohima.
They put up some posters which read: ‘right to trade, right to the city’, ‘let women vendors bloom’, ‘rise above waste and plastic’ etc. Nzano, who came along with other vendors from various parts of Kohima to celebrate the day at High School junction on November 14 to sell their produce, said they have to sit under the sun, wind and rain to carry out their businesses every day.
Besides the ‘disregard’ from the public and authorities; taxation, and having to set shop in unhygienic places; she said they are also in constant fear of being evicted anytime from their place of business.
Kikon felt the women vendors would be highly obliged if the government can facilitate them by providing permanent space at a strategic location to carry out their businesses without any hindrances.
NEN programme association Dolly Wotsa, talking to Eastern Mirror, said women vendors are an integral part of the society, and that people should recognise and realise the importance of those services to the mass.
She pointed out that they are small time business women from rural background with low economic status struggling to make a livelihood and sustain their family through their small earnings. With most of them illiterate and not even aware of their rights and provisions available for them under the Street Vendors Act, Wotsa said NEN is trying to make them aware of their rights and facilitate between the government and the vendors.
Though they have been to the department concerned time and again, appealing and highlighting the plights of the vendors, she lamented that nothing is in place and the vendors are left to fend for themselves.
Wotsa also opined that the voices of the vendors should be heard and be included and involved in the Kohima Smart City plans, as they are an integral part of the capital’s economy.
She acknowledged some financial institutions who have been granting loans to the women vendors to expand their businesses, a small effort of NEN and SEWA to facilitate local women vendors. She also mentioned that women are better and very prompt in paying back the loans, and the banks are highly appreciative of the vendors.
With the vendors made to undergo ‘untold miseries’ as is the case of ‘survival of the fittest in the street’, Wotsa asserted that it is high time the government recognize the services of the women vendors and allocate a designated space at a strategic location for them to carry out their businesses protecting them both from nature’s fury and other man-made problems.
Meanwhile, marking the day, SEWA has submitted a memorandum to the deputy commissioner of Kohima requesting to make street vendors an important component in the Smart City plan as they are an integral part of the food distribution system, and recognise vending as a major livelihood initiative in urban poverty alleviation.
It has also asked the DC to put in place a state policy for street vendors and implement the National Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act 2014 and see that women are well represented in the town vending committees, and also take proactive role in allocating space to local women vendors in the market at nominal rent even for the built up space and regulate taxation by local authority.
Mentioned may be made that SEWA is a collective recognized central union of workers in the informal sector across the country and in Kohima, the members of SEWA comprises of street vendors, weavers and farmers.
Acknowledging street vending as an important livelihood which sustains huge number of urban population at the same time sustaining other thousands of livelihoods in the rural areas, the day was observed at Kohima and Dimapur on November 14.
It was informed that the day would be observed at Dimapur and Mokokchung on November 15, whereby the women vendors would collectively sell their produce at a prominent public space as an act of assertion to the right to livelihood and demand for recognition and protection of their livelihood.