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Theoretical and methodological bases of the training tests

by Maria Fernanda Arraes Treffner

The objective of the pilot phase

The objective of the pilot phase is to promote dialogue between all stakeholders in the artisanal fisheries value chain and explore pathways for change that foster social and gender justice, inclusion and mutual respect as a basis for sustainable artisanal fisheries development.

Thus, the Academy promotes women's human rights on the basis of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women:
Right 1: freedom from violence
Right 2: equality of ownership
Right 3: equality in taking decisions
Right 4: Equality of work and leisure
Right 5: Freedom of thought and association


The pilot training is based on the conception of an ecology of knowledges proposed by Boaventura de Sousa Santos and organised through a social behaviour change communication strategy. The concept borrows from Paulo Freire's vision of dialogue and the so-called "Gender Action Learning System" (GALS) developed by Linda Mayoux. It is brought to life by the practice of graphic facilitation led by Maria Fernanda Arraes Treffner.

The training workshops use visual thinking through graphic facilitation as a tool to support critical reflection, visualisation and dialogue. In tune with the principles of the academy everyone has the right to speak about the realities experienced, their perceptions of issues and opportunities and engage in dialogue with all other participants in search of mutually acceptable objectives and means of implementation.

"Visual thinking" or expressing thoughts and perceptions through images strengthens strategic questioning by making the abstract concrete, illuminating the relationships between elements and simplifying complexities. Graphical Facilitation provides individuals and groups with a variety of tools to help them understand complex concepts, relate things, identify the essentials, improve dialogue, explore ideas, and integrate more easily.

New knowledge and new know-how

The demand for empowerment that permeates SSF Guidelines requires a space and mutual learning processes to come to life. This is part of the truly big challenge of finding ways of moving the current practices of our societies towards sustainable modes of production and consumption. For all to live sustainably with the ocean means finding ways that take into account and are adapted to the local ground realities of artisanal fishers (women and men), to their production conditions, their culture, their relationship with the sea and to a healthy state of coastal and marine ecosystems and their resources.

To make such transitions possible, experimentation and testing are necessary at scales that do not threaten neither livelihoods and existence of fishers and people in coastal communities nor the resources they rely on. These experiences should be designed and enabled rather in a way so as to mobilise people towards embracing a positive change of behaviour in order to improve the living and working conditions of all actors, especially women.

In the pilot training, the experimentation activities within the Academy engage the different actors in the artisanal fisheries value chain (fishers, women in processing and marketing, wholesalers, social regulation bodies, ancillary professions). They create opportunities for interaction between individuals who are part of a specific group, such as members of a group or association of wholesalers, or between members of an extended family. Based on the GALS approach, they are designed to promote dialogue, mutual respect and the autonomy of actors.

GALS is a community-driven empowerment methodology using specific participatory processes and tools for creating diagrammes and other visual tools to empower women to control their lives based on individual, family, community and organisational development. GALS is not just a "methodology for women", but an integrative methodology that allows women and men to address issues related to their social (gender) roles that are important to the effectiveness of any development, including SSF.

Future social emancipation is only realised by the present emancipations. In this perspective, the academy invites the actors to dialogue and reflect, with the support of the methods of communication and visual tools, on the spaces of autonomy and expression in the families, the community and along the SSF value chain in Senegal in search of concrete, adapted solutions and in favour of their own emancipation.

GALS uses inclusive and participatory processes and simple mapping and diagramming tools in the context of:

  • Individual life and livelihood planning: Women and men, including those who can not read and write, maintain individual agendas to develop their own vision of gender change and improved livelihoods in order to plan how they can achieve these goals and gain more control over their lives.
  • Institutional awareness and changing power relations: Communicating these aspirations and strategies and using the same tools at the institutional level for the reflection and learning of the participants strengthens respect for the opinions and interests of poor women and men, their attitudes and behaviours. It creates the conditions that offer poor women (and men) the opportunity to take part in institutional decisions.
  • Collective action and advocacy for change: Individual visions and strategies are shared to develop collective strategies involving women and men, linked to participatory decision-making by groups, associations, governments and development agencies. That leads to better focus and allocation of resources for empowerment and wealth creation.

Planning of the pilot phase

The implementation of the pilot phase is currently designed in three stages of experimentation.

The first stage focuses on visioning and catalising change by setting out with a visual representation of the course of life. The initial step puts the focus on individual participants. They engage in a basic planning process on the road to changing gender inequalities and improve livelihoods. To do so, participants first develop a vision of longer-term change. They then identify an intermediary objective they can achieve within one year with "milestones", say every three month to get a sense of being on track. In developing this intermediate objective and the road towards it, they analyse their opportunities and constraints, e.g. by drawing up action trees and the diamond of preferences or obstacles and commit to take action. The visualisation of their milestones allows them to monitor progress over time.

The second step takes the analysis of opportunities and constraints related to gender roles and the reinforcement of principles of equity related to this vision further by analysing intra-household and possibly value chain relations, using role plays and songs. This widening perspective recognises the empirical finding that individual change is easier when the associated values are shared by the social group, community or society.

This first stage starts with 3-4 day training of a cross section of people from different segments of the SSF value chain which should ideally be followed by short outreach activities and sharing by participants to family members, neighbours, group members and others in the community to create a broad-based sense of empowerment throughout the community. With each outreach the development of the vision, identification of intermediary objectives and opportunities and constraints can be deepened and refined.

Depending on conditions and needs, short booster trainings or interactive (distance) monitoring can be scheduled to ensure progress and address problems arising in understanding and implementation. Ideally, this early appropriation of the methods in people's ordinary lives and business, in the local committees of the SSF academy and its partner groups takes three to six months.

Capacity building and peer learning networks serve as a basis for the sustainability of gender mainstreaming and movement building in subsequent experiments.

The expected result of this stage is that women and men develop a deep understanding of their situation, a vision of change and develop plans to change. This stage increases their sense of autonomy and control over their development process. It becomes easier for the currently most vulnerable (and sometimes even despised) actors to position themselves in relation to other stakeholders in the value chain.

The second stage focuses on improving livelihood conditions and strengthening leadership. It starts with a week-long training introducing more advanced uses of the previously introduced tools and by adding additional tools. In particular, the already known diagrammes will be used to analyse the challenge of increasing income. The action tree can then be developed for this purpose with the corollary to rebuild the domestic tree of how duties and results are distributed between women and men in the household accordingly. A marketing map can complete the vision pathway to plan for improved livelihoods in conjunction with examining areas of collaboration. As the articulations of connected actors of the emerging business plan take shape, it is also important to reflect on what types of information are necessary for robust design, implementation and monitoring.

Implementing such development steps requires leadership at all levels. The same visual tools used for the business case can now also be adapted and used for identifying the vision of leadership, its objectives, the opportunities afforded and which constraints need to be overcome or avoided and how to monitor regular progress. In this context a new basic monitoring tool for the entire process in the format of the "Multilane Vision Journey" can be introduced. The use of the different visualisation tools supporting the analysis and exploration of action requires well orchestrated support by the local champions and facilitation team so that their value can be experienced by all stakeholders.

Continued implementation and monitoring of progress at the individual level and sharing of experiences within the group benefits from quantification of effects and aggregation of change information by the local core catalyst team. This needs to be integrated into the economic and social model and shared also with support institutions for greatest mutual reinforcement.

The duration of stage two is expected to vary between three and six months and lead to deepening of understanding and expansion of analytical tools leading in turn to greater ability to push positive change forward.

The expected results are signs of improvements in livelihood of individual actors and groups and emergence of broader-based leadership at the level of groups and among the trainers (men and women) so that positive conditions for further growth and solidification of results are created.

The third stage consists of a critical review of achievements and difficulties encountered during the year. The annual review of the experiences during the pilot phase of training in the context of the SSF academy will entail a sustainability planning workshop.

The sustainability plan should have several features and address the following aspects:

  • examination of the aggregate information of developments in the SSF value chains;
  • examination of justice for women;
  • examination of other achievements;
  • certification of the best trainers who should ideally become paid staff of the academy to enable scaling up in other regions;
  • a robust monitoring and documentation system;
  • further training of staff to integrate methodologies increasingly well;
  • establishment of a scheme for local, commercial or non-profit funding for scaling up and sharing of good experiences including through institutional and political advocacy.


Selected resources

Arraes Treffner, M.F., 2019. Académie de la Pêche Artisanale au Sénégal. Système d'apprentissage action focalisée sur les aspects de genre pour une pêche artisanale durable. Design de l'initiative pilote. Rapports du Projet Mundus maris Académie de la pêche artisanale. Bruxelles: Mundus maris asbl, 28 p.

FAO, 2015. Voluntary Guidelines for Ensuring Small-scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication. Rome, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 34p.

FAO, 2017. Towards gender-equitable small-scale fisheries governance and development (handbook). Rome, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations,

FAO, 2018. The State of the World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2018. Meeting the sustainable development goals. Rome, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 210p.

FREIRE, Paulo, 2006. Pedagogia do Oprimido. Rio de Janeiro: Paz e Terra.

GTZ, 2008. Value Links Manual. The Methodology of Value Chain Promotion. Reprint of First Revised Edition, January 2008

HABERMAS, J., 1987. Teoría de la acción comunicativa. Madrid: Cátedra.

Jacquet, J. & D. Pauly, 2008. Funding priorities: Big barriers to small-scale fisheries. Conservation Biology, 22(4):832–835.

Mayoux, L., 2015.  Growing the Diamond Forest: Gender Justice in Wealth Creation. AD_2015final_comp.pdf

Mayoux, L., 2014a. Rocky Road to Diamond Dreams: GALS Phase 1: Visioning and Catalysing a Gender Justice Movement, Oxfam Novib, the Hague.

Mayoux, L., 2014b. Gender Action Learning Tools for Coffee Value Chain – tools published as part of C.Wees eds AgriProFocus Coffee Toolkit.

Mayoux, L.C., 2009. Tree of Dreams: GALS Stage 1 Manual Draft for Field-testing. The Hague, Oxfam Novib/WEMAN.

Mayoux, L.C., 2008. Steering Life's Rocky Road - Equal and Together: Gender Action Learning System Core Manual First Draft. The Hague, Oxfam Novib/WEMAN.

Mayoux, L.C., T. Reemer, et al., 2011. Growing the Diamond Forest: Livelihood Market and Value Chain Development. GALS Manual No 3. First Draft. The Hague, Oxfam Novib.

Mayoux, L.C. and M. Hartl, 2009. Gender and rural microfinance: Reaching and empowering women: Guide for Practitioners. Rome, IFAD.

Mayoux, L. and G. Mackie, 2008. Making the Strongest Links: A Practical Guide to Mainstreaming Gender Analysis in Value Chain Development. Addis Ababa, ILO.

Mundus maris, 2017. An academy for small-scale fisheries.

Nauen, C.E. & A. Sall, 2018. A Premiere - Launch of the Small-Scale Fisheries Academy in Senegal.

Santos, Boaventura de Sousa, 2007. Beyond Abyssal Thinking: From Global Lines to Ecologies of Knowledges. Review, XXX, 1:45-89.

SPRING, 2017. Accelerating Behavior Change in Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture Online Training Course. Arlington, VA: Strengthening Partnerships, Results, and Innovations in Nutrition Globally (SPRING) project. Available at

Williams, S.B., Hochet-Kibongui, A.-M. and Nauen, C.E. (eds.), 2005. Gender, fisheries and aquaculture: Social capital and knowledge for the transition towards sustainable use of aquatic ecosystems. / Genre, pêche et aquaculture: Capital social et connaissances pour la transition vers l’utilisation durable des écosystèmes aquatiques. / Género, pesca y acuicultura: Capital social y conocimientos para la transición hacia el desarrollo sostenible. / Género, pesca e aquacultura: Capital social e conhecimento para a transição para um uso sustentável dos ecosistemas aquáticos. Brussels, Bruxuelles, Bruselas, Bruxelas, ACP-EU Fish.Res.Rep., (16):128 p. ISSN 1025-3971 / EUR 20432

A more extended version of the methodological and conceptual approach is available here (in French).