Across all of our projects, Secure Fisheries aspires to understand the regional context in which we work and encourage policies that represent all stakeholders. Women make up an important stakeholder group in fisheries but are often overlooked by policy-makers. Understanding the contribution of women to fisheries and their unique role in providing food security is vital for equitable fisheries development, economic and nutritional stability, and informed fisheries management. Conversely, overlooking women’s contribution to fisheries may have negative impacts on maritime security.
Women, Fisheries, and Food Security:
Culturally specific gender roles frequently dictate the role of women in fisheries production, and this directly affects the degree to which fisheries contribute to food security. Women’s incomes from fisheries contribute to household food security more directly than men’s because women traditionally contribute a greater portion of their earnings towards feeding their families. It is therefore important to support women’s economic success in fishing to establish prosperous fishing communities.
Women in Fisheries
Women occupy vital parts of the fisheries value chain, both formally and informally. In the Colombian town of Punta Bonita, for example, women frequently engage in traditional fishing activities such as gleaning, the process of hand-collecting mollusks and other sea life that is exposed at low tide. While gleaning is foundational to livelihoods in fishing communities like Punta Bonita, it is not typically lucrative and may not be recognized as a legitimate fishing practice. Because of this, women involved in gleaning may be left out of fisheries development and management. Secure Fisheries works closely with the women involved in gleaning in Punta Bonita to understand their perspectives and needs, and to ensure they profit from our work.
Aquaculture is increasingly recognized as a way to improve economic and food security in developing countries, including around Lake Victoria. Aquaculture has the potential to provide an avenue for women’s employment because it is more physically and culturally accessible for women than traditional fishing. Processing activities, such as drying and salting, are also commonly done by women and are a vital component of the fisheries value chain. Women dominate this sector, comprising 90% of the post-harvest work-force. However, this role is often overlooked, undermining women’s livelihoods and the fisheries sector. Through surveys of fishing communities and analysis of gender in shaping value chains, Secure Fisheries aims to understand the roles and perspectives of women in fisheries and ensure they benefit from all our projects.
In Somalia, women are being trained more and more to participate in and benefit from fisheries through gear production and post-harvest processing. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization is teaching Somali women to build boats, sew life jackets, and safely dry and store fish post-harvest. As domestic markets for fish in the Somali region expand, women are positioned to take key leadership roles in its growth. Secure Fisheries is committed to equitable distribution of information about the state of fisheries in Somali waters while supporting the contributions of women to fisheries.