Working Paper
Improving young women’s working conditions in Tanzania’s urban food vending sector

In this paper, we investigate the working conditions of the young women working as assistants in the food vending sector in Tanzania using interviews and focus group discussions which are supplemented with quantitative survey.

Data were collected in the municipalities of Nyamagana and Ilemela in Mwanza Region, Northern Tanzania, and from officers working with the government and insurance fund organizations in Dodoma region, central Tanzania, from August to September 2020.

The results show that young women’s working conditions are poor and that they continue working in the sector on the basis of resilience. Young women's poor working conditions are caused by several actors including their employers, central, and local government.

The main causes of poor working conditions in street food vending are: informality, low salary, uncertainty of pay, long working hours, poor physical environment, lack of training, job insecurity, lack of legal recognitions, unclear legal status, lack of social security and protection. The emergence of the coronavirus disease has further increased their vulnerability.

The government can improve their working conditions by establishing an authority/agency responsible for managing the informal sector, business formalization, reviewing the municipal councils’ by-laws that are prohibitive, and establish vending zones.

Street food vendors’ employers have to improve vendors’ salary, improve physical working environment, use participatory management approach, reduce number of working hours, and consider the rights of employees.