Stories of women in the seafood industry, both good and bad, are rarely told.
WSI Calls the Seafood Industry to Wake Up and Meet Gender Equality
As we are entering 2020, a decade remains before reaching the United Nations Development Goals. The International Organisation for Women in the Seafood Industry (WSI) calls for a massive movement in favour of gender equality and women empowerment (SDG5) in the seafood industry. WSI concretely ask stakeholders to join WSI and become gender equality champions.
SDG 5 in fisheries and aquaculture
In September 2015, the United Nations led a process seeking to end poverty, to fight inequality including gender inequality, and tackle climate crisis. It resulted in the worldwide adoption of 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including Gender equality and women empowerment to be fixed by 2030.
With a team of seafood professionals and gender specialists WSI develops projects, collaborates with existing associations, support s initiatives and shares information in order to reinforce the voices of women and their visibility in the seafood industry.
The fisheries and aquaculture industries have developed numerous actions to reach SDG 14 (Seas and marine resource sustainability) but what has been done along the road of gender justice? Reports on the issue (WSI Watch 2017, 2019) tell us that not much has been initiated and even less achieved. If the seafood industry were a country, it would be one of the most gender unequal in the world, where gender inequality take different pervasive forms. The most frequent ones include:
Invisibility: women contribution to the industry are in many cases not taken into account, invisible into national and sectorial statistics. Unpaid or underpaid auxiliary work allows fishing activities by men to continue even when the activity is not profitable (mending nets, administration, selling). Women’s labour are to be considered as hidden subsidies.
Exclusions: by law, by habits, by tradition in all but a handful of progressive countries, women are excluded from decision making arenas, from being elected in representative bodies, from public policy designing.
Discriminations: Women meet impediments to accessing inputs such as financial capital, bank loans, new technology and immaterial capital such as training. Stereotypes and social norms prevent women from getting some jobs, such as fishers, high profile and well paid jobs. Did you know that women represent occupy 90% of all jobs in the labour intensive seafood processing industry but less than 10% of corporate board members and 1% of CEOs. They even are grossly discriminated to speak at conferences and we should all remember that family burdens lie disproportionately (time, cost) on women shoulders.
WSI is an international not-for-profit organization incorporated under the French law on associations.
Let us be ambitious together
The leaders of the industry, male in most cases are unaware about the actual gender imbalance and the detrimental impacts on the entire business. According to WSI survey, 55% male leaders consider that this problem is solved and 85% agree that they don’t pay attention to it. In reality, it is not solved and WSI calls for actions with no delay if the SDG 5 is to be met.
WSI raise awareness of gender issues amongst public and private stakeholders.
Because the cost of inaction will be bigger than the cost of action, because gender equalities clearly benefit both gender and the business, WSI offers to all fishing and aquaculture stakeholders, corporates, administration, professional organisations and NGOs to help them through concrete projects to progress in gender balance. Let us be ambitious together.
WSI promotes professional equality between men and women in the seafood industry.
It emerged from the growing recognition that women’s participation in the global seafood industry is very significant, yet it is often undervalued by private stakeholders and overlooked by public policies. Globally, one in every two seafood workers is a woman. However, they are very few in leadership positions and over-represented in lowest paid, lowest valued positions. Women are essential contributors to this important food supplying industry, but they remain invisible.
Stories of women in the seafood industry, both good and bad, are rarely told. There is a need to increase awareness about women’s role in this industry and to recognize the value they bring.
While we acknowledge that some progress has been achieved, a lot remains to be done in terms of increasing awareness of gender-based inequality issues and eradicating prejudices.