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Women Without Borders: Gender and Informal Cross-Border Trade in Southern Africa

For this year’s International Women’s Day (March 8, 2017), Microlinks and Agrilinks hosted a special joint seminar on women in trade, entitled “Women Without Borders: Gender and Informal Cross-Border Trade.” The event was held at the City Club of Washington, DC and was broadcasted via webinar to reach an even wider audience.  Banyan Global’s Senior Gender Specialist, Lis Meyers, was the main speaker at the event and presented on Banyan Global research, performed under the USAID/Southern Africa Trade Hub project, on women and informal cross-border trade (ICBT) entitled, “Women Informal Cross-Border Traders in Southern Africa: Contributions, Constraints, and Opportunities.”

Julie MacCarthee, Knowledge Management Specialist at USAID/Bureau for Food Security gave welcoming remarks. Sait Mboob, Economist at the USAID Trade and Regulatory Reform Office, presented on why gender matters to trade facilitation and introduced Lis Meyers. Ms. Meyers discussed how ICBT contributes to women’s livelihoods – both at the individual and household level — as well as food security and national and regional economic growth and trade.  She presented two case studies of individual cross-border traders and shared findings on the wide range of constraints that women ICBTs encounter on a daily basis, including vulnerability to harassment and gender-based violence from border agents.  Ms. Meyers also highlighted key recommendations on how to address these constraints, highlighting specific infrastructure, communications and training, and regulatory support interventions and activities.