The role of women in the seafood industry

May 2015. GLOBEFISH the unit in the FAO Fisheries Department responsible for information on international fish trade released a first of its kind report (#119 Globefish Report, May 2015) on “The role of women in the seafood industry”.

Available here: “The role of women in the seafood industry“.

One in two seafood workers is a woman. This worldwide desktop study, the first of its kind, presents what is known, and what remains to be investigated on the crucial contribution of women to the seafood industry. Women participate to all segments of the seafood industry, including fishing, farming, trading and selling, monitoring and administrating. But they suffer from a widespread lack of consideration for their role and work in the seafood industry.

This desktop research shed lights on a largely ignored aspect of the seafood industry showing that further efforts to promote equity between men and women need to be done in most developing and developed countries.

The knowledge and understanding of the very complex distribution of roles, power, access to resources and profits between genders are incomplete and vary greatly between regions and industry sectors. Where information is available, in both developing and developed countries, there is evidence that women’s participation is constrained or affected by strong cultural rules, robust societal conventions and even in some cases by discriminatory laws. The seafood industry is ruled by patriarchal paradigm, where hierarchy, authority, power, competition, control of natural resources are meant to serve men’s interests and welfare.

This desktop study highlights the ignorance of business leaders and policy makers on the subject. Over the past decades, researchers and development experts have produced evidence of the crucial role of women in fisheries, and of the gender specific constraints they face. However, these evidences have not been disseminated and seafood professionals remain largely unaware of the issues. The primary aim of the study is to sensitise business leaders and policy makers to the value women bring to the seafood industry, and to encourage them to ask each time they develop a new project or a policy: “Have we not overlooked women?”

by MC Monfort, WSI co-founder