Susana Sousa Portugal

Go Back

"Small-scale artisanal fisheries are not only a source of income for many families. They also create social cohesion in coastal communities."

Nestled in the hills of São Jorge, Azores, the Santa Catarina Tuna Canning Factory combines technology with ancestral artisanal methods. Currently, it is the largest private employer on the island with 139 employees, of whom 120 are women. Small-scale artisanal fisheries are extremely important for this small island and the number of job opportunities for women in the tuna canning factory is significant. Susana Sousa is in charge of processing, canning and distributing this locally caught tuna. 

Before working at Santa Catarina Canning Factory, Susana’s job prospects were quite limited. Now with a better quality of life, she has her own house and can send her daughter to university.

“When we have our jobs, we have our salaries, and we have our freedom. We don’t depend on anyone.” says Susana. These are essential steps to empower women in remote communities. Women play a central role in ensuring household food and nutrition security and a personal income also leads to greater opportunities not only for a family’s nutrition, but also health and education.

Women like Susana account for about 40 percent of the global labour force in small-scale artisanal fisheries, playing a central role in food production, processing and marketing.   However, many female fishers, fishfarmers and fishworkers remain socially excluded with limited access to key productive assets such as financial capital, skills or technologies.

Given the key role that women play in small-scale artisanal fisheries and aquaculture, this is a key sector for women’s empowerment and sustainable development. It is essential that efforts focus on constructing gender-based approaches to management, allowing and incentivizing women to gain greater access to and control of income-generating opportunities and to be decision makers with responsibilities throughout the value chains.