This response is from the Gender in Aquaculture and Fisheries Section (GAFS) of the Asian Fisheries Society (https://www.genderaquafish.org/). Hence, our suggestions relate to the gender elements of the SSF-VG. We also draw your attention to Quist (2016) [LINK – “A Gender Analysis of the Adopted Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication: Constraints and Opportunities” Asian Fisheries Science, 29:149-160.]
The key messages from our detailed response (attached) are:
- Women are vital to SSF: Women are a large, important but poorly documented part of SSF, creating monitoring problems within the overall SSF Guidelines monitoring challenge. Many local and national fisheries officials have a very low awareness of the gender provisions in the SSF Guidelines. This could lead to women’s status and engagement diminishing, in spite of efforts to improve SSF. Monitoring should be sensitive to the possibility of negative as well as positive change in gender equality.
- Local scale monitoring is key: The scale of monitoring should primarily be local due to the diverse forms of SSF. Progress measured at the local level would then be collated for the regional/national levels where progress would be measured in terms of policies and programmes in line with the Guidelines, including special programs addressing women. Empirical studies are needed to work through model approaches, at the national level, for collecting sex-disaggregated data.
- Adapt SDG gender targets: The SSF monitoring programme could adapt selected gender targets from relevant SDGs (UN Women, 2018). An annex of suggested targets is provided for consideration. Unfortunately, SDG 14 (Life Under Water) is one of the few SDGs to contain no gender-specific targets, but other SDGs contain relevant targets.
- In depth gender analysis needed: To help overcome gender blindness, in depth gender analysis is needed to establish the fisheries (resources and value chain) and the policies, institutions and organizations that specially affect women of fishing communities.
- First raise community awareness of SSF Guidelines: Greater awareness among SSF communities on the Guidelines is the essential first step for participatory monitoring. Capacity building is needed to educate women and men on the ground that the SSF Guidelines is an exclusive instrument that can be used to ensure their livelihoods including their access to their resources and all other aspects encompassing it.
- Combine participatory monitoring with social change: Nurturing social change is entwined with participatory monitoring. Participants will be the fishers, the local governments, fishers’ organisations, CSOs, researchers (especially those working in SSF and gender). Government agencies will have to cede some control and work in a collaborative rather than top-down manner.
Dr. Meryl Williams