Lis Meyers, Gender Specialist at Banyan Global, gave a presentation on Gender and Informal Cross Border Trade as part of Banyan Global’s gender integration work on the USAID/Southern Africa Trade Hub project. This interagency presentation involved stakeholders from several USAID bureaus and operating units, including the Africa Bureau, the Office of Trade and Regulatory Reform, Bureau for Food Security, and the Office of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, as well as the Department of Commerce and the Millennium Change Corporation (MCC). Susan Markham, the USAID Senior Coordinator for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment was also in attendance.
Ms. Meyers’s presentation discussed gender constraints experienced by women informal cross border traders, including higher transaction costs, lack of access to information on procedures, rights, and processes, and limited access to transportation. Moreover, lack of physical security at border crossings increases the vulnerability of women informal cross border traders to harassment and different forms of gender-based violence (GBV). Banyan Global is currently leading the Southern Africa Trade Hub’s gender assessment on women’s role in informal cross border trade across Southern Africa. The Trade Hub hopes to leverage connections with border agents and customs officials to identify innovative solutions to address gender constraints and prevent violence. Ms. Meyers discussed the overall methodology of the gender assessment, which includes a literature and policy review and fieldwork in Botswana, Zambia, and Malawi, and anticipated results of the assessment.
Ms. Meyers presented alongside Daniel O’Neil, from Cardno Emerging Markets, who spoke about a new USAID toolkit titled, Building a Safer World: Toolkit for Integrating GBV Prevention and Response into USAID Energy and Infrastructure Projects. The Toolkit provides in depth guidance on how to promote gender-inclusive design in infrastructure and energy projects.