Research Report on Women Street Vendors in Lahore
Publisher: Commitee for Asian Women
Publication Date: Apr 2003
There are two main barriers to improving the conditions of women street vendors - a lack of understanding of their current status and a lack of political commitment to improve conditions. This report of interviews with 40 women street vendors from across Lahore, Pakistan, focuses on eight vending categories: vegetable; fruit; processed foods; ready meals; bangles; accessories; cloth; and money change. Most women started vending a few years after marriage, when the pressures of growing families forced them to supplement their family income, after the death of their husband or after divorce/separation. Vending enables them to make a significant contribution to family income, however, all suffer from fatigue and other health problems resulting from long working days, working amongst heavy traffic and in intense direct sunlight. Over half the women, 58 percent, also reported facing harassment from the police and officials of the Municipal Corporation of Lahore (MCL). High levels of illiteracy (90 percent) also hindered women's access to information on available services. A number of recommendations are made that recognise that social protection measures must be accompanied by measures to help the women generate a decent livelihood. A new policy and legislation is required to address the needs of women in the informal sector (street vendors and home-based workers).