20th March 2014
18th March 2014 was a historic moment for the poor women working in the informal sector in Sudan as they received a hard-earned permit to form the first and only, Women’s Cooperatives Union.
The union encompasses 13 cooperatives, each with an estimated 100 women who include tea and food-sellers, domestic workers and petty traders selling goods in markets and neighborhoods in different parts of Greater Khartoum state.
SIHA made significant contributions in the formation of several cooperatives. SIHA organised coalition-building trainings and facilitated several meetings for the cooperatives that led to the formation of the union, working tirelessly to bring together all the poorest working women to agree that a union would not only protect them, but would also inspire their collective efforts to advocate for their rights. The process took a year and a half of trainings and consultations with SIHA and the women.
Across the Horn of Africa women continue to be the face of the urban centers and the bread winners and core supporters of their families and communities. At the same time, they are the most vulnerable to all governance faults and societal violence being right there on the streets. The unbalanced and inequitable development, civil conflicts and small wars are all pushing the poorest women to the edges of the roads and the alleys of urban centers with minimal skills and multiple risks trying to build their lives and earn a living.
SIHA would like to congratulate the Sudan women for their hard work, dedication and perseverance in forming this union and is certain that this effort will change their lives, awareness and secure their livelihoods. Formation of cooperatives has not only improved the livelihoods of women and their communities, but also creates a solid platform for human rights and advocacy against all forms of violence against women.
As SIHA, we are striving to duplicate this experience in as many countries and we call on international and regional actors to support such initiatives that matter.