By Monica Garzaro Scott
On 14 November 2012, StreetNet International adopted a resolution to recognise International Street Vendors Day, to acknowedge street and market vendor´s contribution to societies around the world. During this year, affiliates received support to print t-shirts in commemoration of this day, and many of them celebrated with marches, wearing these t-shirts. StreetNet also celebrated its tenth anniversary during 2012. Fast forwarding to 2014, we have another opportunity to celebrate this important day.
International Street Vendors Day recognises and values the creative spirit and enterprise this sector has and their contribution to the economies in all countries where they exist and are organised. Local and national governments cannot deny the importance of this sector. Many member organisations of StreetNet International have been empowered to defend their rights; however, government officials still casually disregard workers and persecute them in their daily work environment. Even with these tough challenges the informal economy faces, the world can no longer avoid considering the situation of workers in this sector. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) recently affirmed that almost 50% of the workforce is in the informal economy. Many are women and youngsters. Therefore, celebrating another International Street Vendors Day in 2014 has a special added significance.
Through joint efforts to end all forms of injustice against street and market vendors, we are securing a better world for all. It is important that we focus on youth and acquire support for this critical group that will shape the present and the future of our societies. StreetNet International must look at opportunities and negotiate for the inclusion of social protection floors in different countries, for all members working in this sector. It is time to consolidate good practices and move forward taking necessary actions to get substantial results, paving the way for a more inclusive framework for street vendors.
National and local governments, the ILO, civil society and the general public must know of our efforts and contributions. We must stop the criminalisation of this sector and encourage opportunities for street vendors to trade, since they are hard workers, earning a livelihood for their families. They assist to reduce poverty, much more than that anticipated by the Millennium Goals from national governments and the private sector.
Investing in improving street and market vendors’ organisational skills, education and training, health, social and economic support systems, is a good investment for their future.
StreetNet International has four focal point organisations around the world and many country members who share the sense of importance of being part of a whole in relation to StreetNet. Solidarity with them is one of the fundamentals of coordinated work. In the Americas, celebratory messages have been transmitted through national videos, expressing good wishes for all. In other regions, there were statements and press releases. With each year, the commitment to a shared struggle calls for celebrations as the visibilty of street and market vendors grows.