Betty Mtewele, a market vendor and Chair of the National Women’s Association for Informal Market Traders

From where I stand: “We must believe in ourselves that we can be leaders”

Betty Mtehemu, Deputy Chairperson of Fabric Clothes Sector, and Chairperson of the Women’s Union in Dar es Salaam’s Mchikichini Market has seen how raising awareness of women’s rights in the workplace has improved the safety of the market.

Betty Mtewele, a market vendor and Chair of the National Women’s Association for Informal Market Traders
Betty Mtewele, a market vendor and Chair of the National Women’s Association for Informal Market Traders. Photo: UN Women/Daniel Donald

Monday, December 24, 2018 via UN Women — When I first started running my own business in the market, there was disunity among business women of this market.I found that everyone was minding their own business, no one helped you when you faced acts of gender-based violence. Women would sell their food and not get paid, they were abused by men, and everyone was quiet! There were no measures against gender-based violence . When you were abused you felt like quitting the job. Some women quit the job.

Things have changed after the Equality for Growth programme. The programme trained us through forums and seminars on how to educate people about gender-based violence. Now we know what measures to take and how we can solve this problem. There are lawyers and women activists in the market who are helping us.

The training drove me to become a leader of the women’s union in the market. We lacked confidence before and we thought that we couldn’t be leaders, but the training helped us grow a feeling of confidence. Women must have confidence and we must believe in ourselves that we can be leaders.

Stopping gender-based violence in the market helps women to become successful in the market. Currently, there is a set of rules that protect women against gender-based violence and has made this market safer for them to run their business.

It is very important for us women to work with each other. When we can all speak in a single voice together as women, especially about the challenges faced by a woman, we can face those challenges as a team.”


Betty Mtehemu has had her own fabrics business in Dar es Salaam’s Mchikichini market for 13 years. Since 2015, over 5,600 women market vendors have participated in awareness sessions on the prevention of sexual harassment, domestic and economic violence through Equality for Growth, a grantee of the UN Trust Fund the End Violence against Women, managed by UN Women. Mtehemu’s story highlights the importance of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8, which promotes safe and secure working environments for all workers, as well as SDG 5, which aims to eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres.

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