This qualitative case study focuses onthe challenges and coping mechanisms of young female informal workers withparticular emphasis to street vendors in Aradasub-city. This chapter presents the background, statement of the problem,rationale of the study objectives and research questions of the study. Moreover,significance, challenges and limitationsof the study are also demonstrated in this chapter. Background The informal sector economicactivities are rapidly expanding globally, especially in developing countries.
In Africa for instance, informal sector activities accounted for almost 80% ofnon-agricultural employment, over 60% of urban employment and over 90% of newjobs for approximately the past decades (Manganga,2007. P.4). the informal sectoris a very essential activity for thesurvival of people in cities who could not fulfill their needs through formalsector. Thus, it has become a shield for the disadvantaged people of many ofthe developing countries’ larger cities ( Losby et al., 2002:14 cited inMengistu and Jibat,2015). In Ethiopia, as pointed out bySibhat (n.
d), the informal economy GNP in 1999-2000 was 40.33 %. She also stated that even if little attention hasbeen paid to the role of the informal sector in development, growth andcreating jobs, the sector contributes about 55 % of sub Saharan Africa’s GDPand 80% of the labor force. Theopportunity of informal sector in Africa is mostly for the poorest, women andthe youth. According to the statistical data presented by CSA (2003), theimportance of the informal sector workers in Ethiopia is the same as the formalsector by labor absorptive capacity, which is (50%) of the total employment. The informal sector encompasses initself a number of activities.
From these activities, street vending is morevisible and important due its entrepreneurial characters and its relation withurban spaces (Mengistu and Jibat,2015). Although ithas been argued that vending attracts those who have limited opportunities forobtaining formal employment and/or prestigious business, and minimizes chances of social exclusion and marginalization; street vending is increasingly becoming an option formany citizens (Mitullah, 2003). Whilst mobile vendorsundertake door to door selling, with merchandise carried in the hands, on wheelbarrels and bicycles (Mitullah 2003.p. 7, Bhowmik 2010.p. 5), pavements,footpaths are always utilized by stationary vendors for exhibiting their items throughthe use of mats, tables and fences.
Along the globe, street vendors sell almostsimilar items, divisible into small bundles to ease movements (Mitullah 2003,Kamunyori 2007.pp. 26). Scholars of street vendorsinterested in gender dimension, report that, in Africa, females out numbermales; the number raising as high as 88 % in some countries (Skinner 2010.pp. 189). However, in the case ofEthiopia, the total number of street vendors at a country level, (excludingfood vendors) aged 10 years and above is, 20,41; of which 14,019 are male and12,306 are female. In Addis Ababa, the total number of street vendors (excludingfood vendors) aged 10 years and above is 5,335; of which 4,027 are male and1,308 are female(CSA,2015).
The above data indicates that thenumber of male street vendors is greater than that of the female, which is aninverse incidence as compared to CSA’s 2008 data, which shows that out of thetotal street vendors, women account for 60%. Here, it is imperative to notethat both the 2008 and 2015 CSA data did not show the number of street vendorsby age group so, it is difficult to identify the exact estimation of youngfemale street vendors.