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The IDAF Programme, since it started in 1983, has accorded particular attention to downstream activities of the artisanal fisheries sector, activities generally dominated by women, and also community development activities within fishing communities. This is done in regard to equity and efficiency in order to increase the job opportunities and income generating activities for women who are disadvantaged in improving their access to productive resources. The Programme has also put emphasis on the participation of women in the economy and encouraged the recognition of their non-rewarded efforts in the management of communities.

In 1995, the Programme constituted a Working Group to reflect on the role of women and on questions related to gender in fishing communities. The members of this Working Group are 11 known scientists and technicians from countries covered by IDAF. These women studied the role of women in 10 fishing communities in 8 countries. The results of their work were presented at the 9th IDAF Liaison Officers Meeting in Conakry in November 1995.

To increase their knowledge and identify actions that can satisfy the practical and strategic needs of women, the Working Group chose to conduct five complementary studies. These analysed (i) income generated by women in the Koko fishing community of Nigeria; (ii) the organization of women and the factors that favour or impede the sustainability of their activities in two fishing villages in The Gambia; (iii) the nutritional hygiene and sanitation conditions of women and children in the fishing communities of Joal in Senegal and Limbe in Cameroon, and (iv) the elements and mechanisms of the participation of women in the implementation of the integrated project of Aguégués in Benin.

In addition, IDAF collaborated with the Management Development Institute in The Gambia to organize a national workshop to sensitize the fisheries officials and rural development agents on the gender issues in order to improve their interventions within the fishing communities.

The moment, therefore, seems opportune to share the knowledge and new experiences in this enlarged forum, which is part of the IDAF Liaison Officers Meeting. It is, in fact, necessary to maintain the momentum which was created and to reinforce it to ensure the continuing participation of women in artisanal fisheries and in the management of fishing communities. From a more integrated and participatory approach, as the Programme recommends, the sustainable development of artisanal fishing communities and the rational exploitation of marine resources can be implemented only with the support of all the members of the community, in particular, those who often constitute more than half of the population, the women.

Objective of the Workshop

The objective is to draw attention to the state of knowledge related to gender roles and issues in the artisanal fisheries sector in the region covered by the Programme.

The expected results include recommendations for eventual studies to be undertaken by the Working Group, as well as concrete actions in favour of more equity between the genders in the sector.

Modus Operandi

It is proposed that the work be done in plenary sessions, as well as in limited group to cover certain aspects in more detail and to encourage exchanges. The themes of the groups are the socio-cultural conditions, the technico-economic aspects, and the institutional and legal issues.

The subjects proposed for the attention of the different groups are listed below. The list is not exhaustive.

The documents presented below are meant to be used as references during the workshop. They are summaries of voluminous reports that are being published by the Programme.

Workshop: modus operandi for the work in groups

Group 1: Socio-cultural issues

    Among these issues:

    - social and cultural barriers to enter the sector


    - division of labour in household


    - financial responsibility for education, health, etc.


    - use of income according to gender


    - heritage customs


    - access to formal education


    - hygiene and nutrition features in fishing communities


    - etc.

Group 2: Technico-economic issues

    Issues would include:

    - fish processing activities


    - fish marketing activities


    - the financing of fishing units


    - alternative employment opportunities during low season


    - technical assistance received so far and requested in the future


    - financing capacities


    - equity


    - etc.

Group 3: Institutional and legal issues

    Issues cover:

    - access to training, ownership, employment, financial markets (formal and non-formal like "tontines")


    - level of organization


    - presence in Fisheries Administrations


    - socio-professional relationships with other operators in the sub-sector (competition, dependence, complementarily, solidarity, etc.)


    - customs and non-customs barriers


    - legal constraints


    - decision making process


    - representation


    - equity



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