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A glimpse at the way to gender equality in the seafood industry


Twenty years after the Beijing World Conference on Gender Equity, further efforts to promote equity and to shed light on the presence of women in the seafood industry need to be done in most developing and developed countries. 

One in two seafood workers is a woman. Women participate in all segments of the seafood industry, including fishing, farming, trading and selling, monitoring and administrating. But the widespread lack of consideration for their role and work in the seafood industry are, in many respect, disadvantageous to them and ultimately bar them from fully and equitably participate in the industry.

Marie Christine Monfort, economist, seafood consultant and author of the volume "The role of women in the seafood industry" presents at the 2016 Seaweb Conference the results of her desktop research, carried out in 2015, on the gender gap in the seafood industry.

The main findings of this work include:

  • 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. The six case studies included in the report (Croatia, Egypt, France, Iceland, India and Senegal) evidence that the quality of data is not linked to the level of economic development. Developing countries such as India and Senegal, for instance, offer rather good records. By contrast, the knowledge of the participation of women in the seafood industry in France is dramatically poor.
  • 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 patriarchy paradigm, where hierarchy, authority, power, competition, development, control of human and natural resources and domination of others is shaped by males to their welfares. Women are barred from some seafood related jobs, such as going to sea on-board fishing vessels. he presence and participation of women at decision making levels is even rarer, and at top management level they are simply excluded.
  • On-going global changes including the demand for cheap inputs, the widespread decline in marine resources, the deterioration of marine habitats and the impact of climate changes, among other things, further affect already fragile populations, to which many women belong.
  • Over the past decades, researchers and development experts have produced evidence of the crucial role of women in fisheries, and the gender specific constraints they face, but this knowledge has hardly ever been disseminated among seafood professionals.


Read more:

Angling for gender equality in the seafood industry

Shaping an international network for women in the seafood industry: A round table discussion, Vigo, Spain, 9 October 2015


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