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Cross Border Women Traders Advocate for Gender Equality :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Cross Border Women Traders Advocate for Gender Equality

The women traders also pointed out that the flourishing informal trade can be very beneficial to the border residents due to the quick and improved livelihoods through job creations but they highlighted that such ventures are undeniably risky.
25 Mar 2021 13:08
Michael Lakony the Amuru District LC5 Chairperson speaking to Cross Border Women Traders in Elegu Town Council- Photo by Dominic Ochola

Audio 5

Woman traders at the Uganda-South Sudan border have asked leaders of both countries to put in place favourable policies that advocate gender equality.

Under their umbrella bodies Elegu and Nimule Women Cross Border Traders Association, with a membership of over, 9,000 women argue that the Uganda-South Sudan border is so porous with notable volumes of informal trade being transacted outside recognized crossings that frustrate them.

The women traders also pointed out that the flourishing informal trade can be very beneficial to the border residents due to the quick and improved livelihoods through job creations but they highlighted that such ventures are undeniably risky.

Maureen Mwanzia, a saloon operator at Elegu Township revealed that because of their weak gender, different security personnel at the border take advantage to illicitly extort money from them thus affecting their confidence in cross-border trade.

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Yemima Semira Elisama, the Chairperson of Nimule Cross Border Women Traders in South Sudan decried the unrelenting level of hostility of Ugandan counterparts who segregate against them to trade in the country yet they host hundreds of Ugandan trades back home.

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The Uganda National Cross Border Traders Association, Sam Ogwal pointed out the prevailing challenges that inhibit women traders from achieving their full potential in cross-border trade. He cited citing knowledge gaps in trade protocols such as customs policies and procedures that are not fully understood by women traders.

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Moses Akadapis Loukae, the in-charge of Elegu Police Station notes that women traders are faced with the danger of transacting in risky cross-border businesses including smuggling and manoeuvre their ways by crossing borders through the illegal and dangerous paths that threaten the sustainability of cross-border trade.

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Moses Oguttu, a customs officer with Uganda Revenue Authority-URA condemned acts of extortion and harassment of the women traders. He warned the women traders against perpetrating corruption by advancing bribes to customs personnel in favour to make cross-border trade a profitable and sustainable activity for traders, especially women.

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According to Michael Lakony, the Amuru LCV Chairperson Elegu Border crossing is infested by several unscrupulous security personnel who undermines cross-border trade by soliciting bribes from women traders, an act that limits business growth and expansion.

Last week, the Eastern African Sub-Regional Support Initiative for the Advancement of Women (EASSI), a regional, non-profit body engaged the border leaders, security personnel and other government agencies at the summit to create awareness.  

Sheila Kawamara-Mishambi, EASSI’s Executive Director says that they have rolled engagements to strengthens the capacity of cross-border women traders in governance and policy advocacy to debunk the trade barriers. 

In 2020, leaders of the cross-border women traders reported that six members of their association were raped and three impregnated by cross-border security personnel. The incidents happened during the closure of the border by the two countries to curtail the spread of the deadly global Coronavirus Disease – COVID-19 pandemic.