Who Are Street Vendors?
Around the world, millions of people earn their livelihoods as street vendors. In markets, on streets, at stalls, and on the go, street vendors sell anything from hot food to fresh produce, shoes to hair products, and electronics to everyday household goods.
But, while their food and goods are affordable and convenient to their customers, street vendors face significant barriers. These barriers run the risk of deepening their poverty and vulnerability.
The most pressing issues include the following:
- Insecure and unsafe workplaces.
- Harassment from police and other government authorities.
- Lack of access to credit, insurance, savings, and other financial services.
- Lack of access to healthcare.
- Lack of access to childcare.
Improving Lives and Livelihoods
As a result, StreetNet seeks to improve the lives and livelihoods of street vendors by strengthening its affiliates in the interests of:
- Improving the lives of street vendors and informal traders. This is accomplished through organization, collective action, and access to services. In so doing, StreetNet aims to address the gender imbalances that exist both in the work of street vendors and in their organizations; and
- Transforming the contexts street vendors work in through collective negotiations, participatory processes, lobbying, and advocacy. In so doing, StreetNet seeks to include gender specific proposals and to advance the collection of accurate data on women in street vending and informal trading. It also seeks to collect data on the nature of these women’s unpaid household work.
Organizing Within the Informal Economy
And, by increasing awareness of options for organizing within the informal economy—such as worker-owned, cooperative, credit, health care, and insurance schemes—and by developing effective organizations, StreetNet seeks to make the livelihoods of street vendors and related informal economy workers more sustainable. More, it works to enable these workers to begin to walk out of poverty and marginalization towards greater freedom and control of their own lives.
Focusing on Youth
This commitment also focuses on youth by improving the lives and livelihoods of future generations of street vendors. Young street and market vendors face the same challenges as other street vendors in the areas of solidarity, fighting for recognition, women’s empowerment, decent jobs, equality, diversity, discrimination, environmental responsibility, and sustainable development. So, by sharing experiences, developing common strategies, and strengthening organizational structures, youth can generate a culture of empowerment and solidarity.