Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries
in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication

FAO Fisheries Division host webinar on Women’s Leadership in Fisheries and Aquaculture

08/03/2021 Online

For International Women's Day 2021, the Gender Team of the FAO Fisheries Division hosted the webinar, Women’s Leadership in Fisheries and Aquaculture with a panel of women who are leaders in the seafood sector. The panelists were: Shirlene Anthony Samy, INFOFISH Director; Christelle Vigot, Chairwoman of the International Organisation for Women in the Seafood Industry (WSI), Marie Christine Monfort, Co-founder and Executive Director of WSI, Yuki Chiudi, Sushi chef, owner of Nadeshico Sushi and Founder of Nadeshico Sushi.

The webinar was opened by the FAO's Deputy-Director General Maria Helena Semedo who stated that "only by valuing women's perspectives can we have game-changing contributions to decisions and policies". Ms Semedo reminded the audience that working together towards removing the gender-based constraints is crucial, as they prevent women from empowering themselves. She also highlighted the fundamental need for male allies in the fight for gender equality and called for increasing our efforts to make women's and girls' contribution to fisheries and aquaculture more visible.

The webinar consisted of a roundtable discussion where the panelist could share their experiences, their successes but also the challenges and constraints they faced as they rose to positions of leadership as women in a male-dominated sector. They had the opportunity to deliver key messages in order to outline the way forward for the realization of Sustainable Development Goal 5: Gender Equality, which has cross-cutting pertinence in the seafood sector.

Shirlene Anthony Samy, raised the potential of e-commercial platforms to allow more women to sell and trade fisheries and aquaculture products as digital platforms free them from some of the gender-based constraints that limit in-person commerce. Yuki Chidui and Shirlene Anthony Samy raised the need for daily action and steps forward in order to change and challenge restrictive norms, and Christelle Vigot reminded the participants that we must reflect on what type of leadership we want today. Marie Christine Monfort highlighted the importance of closing the gender gap and calling on the FAO  to begin planning an international conference for women in fisheries and aquaculture.

The FAO Fisheries Division Deputy-Director, Audun Lem, recalled in his closing remarks that gender equality in the fisheries and aquaculture sector remains a top priority, in part because of the perception of gender as an academic discipline only. In an effort to move the discourse on gender equality and equity from theory and into practice, the FAO Fisheries Division has published and endorsed numerous instruments to support practitioners in the transition, such as the handbook, 'Towards gender-equitable small-scale fisheries governance and development', which seeks to support the implementation of the SSF Guidelines.

In his closing remarks, Mr. Lem stressed that the work that remains cannot be carried out by women alone, and that men have an important role in the movement for gender equality and must help in "rethinking the power relationship between human beings and traditional gender roles that will release us from old and restrictive norms that limit men, women and those who define their identity otherwise".