Women play important roles in all areas of the agricultural sector. From farming, through transport, wholesale, retail to the consumer; women are present throughout the marketing chain.
In order to better understand the issues that female Cambodian traders of agricultural produce face, AMI carried out interviews in four markets.
These are some of the common issues that the interviewees were concerned about:
Female traders tend to have heavy workloads, as they must take care of their families as well as run a business. Unlike male traders who that are often physically stronger, female traders often have to hire additional help to assist them in lifting and carrying produce.
- Unsupportive Husbands
Several interviewees reported that their husbands do not help them with their business or household responsibilities. Some traders reported that their husbands were regularly drunk, and sometimes physically abusive.
Some traders reported severe financial problems that are amplified by the exorbitant interest rates (up to 20%) charged by money lenders, to whom traders turn when facing cash flow problems. Such debt is often carried by the women alone, who are either afraid to tell their husbands as doing so may cause conflict, or they receive little or no support even if their husbands do know of the debt.
Female traders can face security risks, as some need to sleep at their market stalls in order to purchase produce from suppliers in the early hours of the morning. This affects widows in particular, as they are at risk from being alone at their stalls, and their families are at risk from being alone at home.
In general, female traders showed a greater knowledge of the agricultural market than their male counterparts. Many showed an interest in receiving training to assist in the gender issues they face, and enthusiasm to work with AMI to improve their business skills.