Women's participation in business and gender relations : interrogating the experiences of market women vendors in urban Kampala
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The ever-growing participation of women in the labor force has presented various opportunities and challenges to women and their families. The study documents the extent to which female participation in the labor market has affected intra house gender relations and resource ownership using the case study of market women vendors. The study used the qualitative methodology to capture lived experiences of women from 32 in depth interviews, 4 key informant interviews and 3 focus Group Discussions in Nakawa Market located in Kampala District. The Key informants were identified using purposive sampling targeting women in leadership positions. The in-depth interview respondents and FGDs were identified using both random and stratified sampling. The study found that women in the informal sector such as market women vendors have; acquired assets such as land, automotive (vehicles and motorcycles), animals, constructed houses, invested in and expanded their businesses, continued to pay for their children’s school fees and are responsible for their family welfare. The study also revealed that women participation in the labor market enhances their confidence, and this is attributed to; the social capital acquired from the marketplace, trainings offered, and income earned which increase their agency to make decisions both at home and their workplace. The research gives a voice to market women vendors who may otherwise have remained silent, unrecognized, and unacknowledged without an opportunity to share their experiences. The women in the study went beyond addressing their practical needs to addressing their strategic needs. They have accessed, owned, controlled, and utilized productive resources such as land, houses, automotive, livestock and furniture. The assets owned have also been utilized by the women themselves, to generate additional incomes for their use. They largely participate in decision making especially at household level and are in control of their finances to address their most pressing concerns within the households. Their dependence on the male kin has greatly reduced due to the confidence built over time and can solely look after their families in absence of their spouses. Therefore, the social and regulatory environment in the marketplaces should be made conducive for informal women workers to comfortably participate in the labor market if they must continue challenging the existing power relations within both their households and communities at large.