The regional programme director for the United Nations Development Fund for Women or UNIFEM says a new scheme about to be trialled in Papua New Guinea offers women working in both the formal and informal economies vital protection.
Elizabeth Cox says while there's no clear distinction between the two sectors, the formal generally applies to areas where there is regulation, which often needs to be brought up to date.
Ms Cox says as reliance on cash increases, women traders in the Pacific are the most invisible and the least protected by regulation.
"Legal empowerment of the poor is an approach, a strategy that's been well-documented, well-tested in a number of parts of the world, where it's changed what people considered unruly markets, unsafe markets, unmanageable informal sector into what they call loveable, liveable, very productive, very diverse, one-stop centres that not only are a place where people can trade in safety and security but also they can access all kinds of services."
Elizabeth Cox of the UN Fund for Women.