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Helping Poor Women Producers to Access Global Markets

Chattisgarh_woman_weaving_basketsCan the millions of poor rural women who weave traditional fabrics, sew fine embroideries, fashion handicrafts, and collect agricultural produce be equal participants in the global marketplace?


To assist poor women’s producers organizations to upgrade their capabilities, access credit, and penetrate global markets, the World Bank supported a consultation entitled “Poor Women’s Role in Global Trade” between Indian government officials and representatives from women’s grassroots organizations from across the country.


The consultation, held in New Delhi on August 21, 2006, was jointly organised by the Ministry of Commerce & Industry and the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), a union of poor self-employed women with over 700,000 members mostly from the rural areas.


Participants in the consultation included representatives from the Commerce Ministry, the corporate sector, producer’s organizations, women’s self help groups, and development experts.

Deliberations from the conference will form part of the wider civil society discussions on September 15, 2006 as part of the World Bank-IMF Annual Meetings at Singapore.


Today, globalization has drawn millions of women across the developing world into paid employment - especially in labor–intensive industries. In India, poor women make up more than half the workforce that turns the wheels of India’s expanding export sector.


However, most of these women work in unorganized, informal sector jobs. Unaware about the real value of the goods they produce, how and where to market their products or secure fair prices, they are open to exploitation from traders and middlemen at all stages of the production and marketing process.


With no access to bank credit, they finance the purchase of raw materials with loans from moneylenders and traders at exorbitant rates of interest. If unable to repay, they often part with their produce at throwaway prices, ending up with little income or none whatsoever.


Summary of Consultations 48.5 kb.pdf


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