Report of the workshop
IDAF Programme set up a Working Group on the Role of Women in Fishing Communities in 1995. At the 9th LOM in Conakry Guinea, studies carried out by the members of the working group in 11 fishing communities in 8 countries were discussed. Reports of the activities of the Working Group as well as the national workshop on Gender awareness in the Gambia which was co-organized by IDAF Programme, Management Development Institute (MDI) and the Fisheries Department of the Gambia constitute the working documents for the present Workshop.
The moderator of the workshop, Mrs I. Touray of the MDI, opened up the workshop by presenting the theoretical aspects:
- rationale of the workshop;
- gender analysis;
- roles and responsibilities;
- equity (moral, economic, and social);
- equality (economic, and social);
- culture and beliefs;
The participants were then divided into three groups to discuss the socio-cultural, technico-economic, and institutional and legal issues respectively. The gender dimension within each of these areas was reviewed. In each group problems related to the activities of men and women in artisanal fisheries were discussed and prioritized.
With regards to socio-cultural issues, the participants noted that:
- norms, taboos, customs, traditions, etc. as well as the sharing of responsibilities among males and females vary from country to country;
- both boys and girls have access to education but there are several constraints within fishing communities: lack of or inadequate schooling facilities, teaching staff, transportation, or inadequate finances. In addition, there is a high tendency of dropouts among boys and early age marriage among girls;
- hygiene, nutrition and health conditions are generally inadequate and both males and females contribute to as well as suffer from this situation; inheritance customs can be patrilineal or matrilineal, but in almost all cases females are disadvantaged.
Based on these considerations and conclusions, the participants recommended:
a. to undertake an effective sensitization programme that includes all groups within the fishing communities on a continual basis;
b. to make policy and decision makers aware of gender equity issues and internalize gender analysis;
c. to recognize, identify and seek to redress social and cultural constraints that hinder effective participation of both males and females in artisanal fisheries;
d. to recognize and acknowledge the value of traditional systems and incorporate these where appropriate in planning initiatives and strategies;
e. to create an enabling and appropriate environment for collaboration between the Fisheries Department and competent agencies, including NGOs, to improve, with the active participation of the local population, the hygiene, nutrition, health and education within the fishing communities.
For the technico-economic Working group the problems were classified according to the following issues.
- processing: lack of credit facility to buy fish, poor hygiene, quality, and preservation of processed products;
- marketing: inadequate market outlets, poor means of preserving fresh fish, lack of book-keeping skills;
- alternative employment opportunities: lack of training and information on alternatives;
- technical assistance: weak utilization of improved processing technologies, lack of consideration of real needs of the different actors in the development projects in the fishing communities, low training level of field agents and extensionists, and poor exchange of information on didactic materials;
- financing capacity: lack of organization and sensitization of economic operators, inadequacy of the available credit systems for artisanal fisheries operations, and poor exchange of experience on successful credit systems in the region.
In order to address the problems, the participants recommended:
a. to promote groupings and encourage the formation of operator groups according to socio-professional categories for self-reliance;
b. to train field agents on effective extension methods;
c. to train operators on functional literacy and basic book-keeping, and to sensitize them on basic financial management, to favour savings;
d. to sensitize the relevant operators on the need for hygiene and good quality of products;
e. to collect and disseminate information on existing markets; on alternative employment possibilities during low season, and on experiences on credit;
f. to promote the use of appropriate technologies to process fish and preserve fresh fish;
g. to promote proper methods of preventing insect infestation in dried fish.
The Working Group on institutional and legal issues discussed the questions related to: access to training, access to ownership and financial markets, socio-professional and institutional relationships between Fisheries Administration and other bodies/agencies, legal constraints and entry barriers, and presence of women in Fisheries Administrations.
The participants recommended:
a. to improve access to training through:
-sensitization, including for attitudinal change;
- training need assessment, in particular in business management, functional literacy, and improved post-harvest technologies;
- training of trainers, including extension agents;
- area specific training in terms of language, group composition (mixed or not), etc.
b. to improve access to ownership and financial markets through:
- better economic and financial information on artisanal fisheries for financial institutions, including the post-harvest sector;
- sensitization and awareness;
- support to existing informal financial systems;
c. to improve socio-professional and institutional relationships through:
- the establishment of country specific concertation forum for the different institutions involved in the fisheries sector;
- the production of information with special attention to feed back;
d. to reduce legal constraints and entry barriers through:
- creation of awareness and dissemination of relevant information at community level;
- harmonization of legislation at regional or sub-regional levels;
- participatory approach in development planning;
- develop information on the sector for decision makers negotiating at regional or sub-regional levels;
e. to ensure equitable presence of women in Fisheries Departments;
- proper training of women;
- development of gender sensitivity through case studies.