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WOMEN AND OCEAN

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Effiong

The ocean feeds billions of people and provides livelihoods for billions
more - including, of course, women and girls.
Its potential for a continent on which almost two thirds of its states have a
coastline, whose trade is 90 percent sea-borne and whose lakes constitute
the largest proportion of surface freshwater in the world, is enormous.
Indeed, its potential runs into the many trillions of dollars and promises to
combine enormous economic growth with environmental conservation, if
stewarded properly.


But one thing we can say with certainty now is that the full potential of the
ocean can only be reached if it is truly inclusive, allowing all people in
society to reap the dividends on offer from the oceans, seas, lakes and rivers
of the continent.


Fishing and aquaculture are neither gender-blind nor gender-neutral.
There is clear evidence that women and men in the fishing industry are
treated and paid unequally. There is substantial segregation of work by
gender, with men doing much of the offshore and high-value fishing, fish
harvesting and aquaculture, while women are far more involved in less
well-paid, or even unpaid, fish processing, harvesting of less valuable fish,
sales and maintenance.


Women must be at the heart of this inclusivity, gender equality and
women’s empowerment must be in the heart of all government policies and
actions and the ocean is fertile ground to further women’s role in this
transformative field.


Women are rarely given a seat on the local, regional, national or
international bodies that deliberate on the oceans, laws and standards that
affect them. Access to funding, training, education, technology, market
information and the ability to start ventures are much less available to
women than to men. This lack of gender diversity stifles innovation,
productivity and creativity. It stifles the solutions women could offer for
creating sustainable oceans and livelihoods through fishing.
they have not always been able to fully enjoy the rewards of the growth in
world’s economies and the roles they have played in helping expand sectors
across the continent are gaining greater recognition.
The marine industry in Africa is male dominated, women should be
involved in marine industries across Africa.
by expanding their roles in shipping, fishing and other sectors of the marine
industry.


The government must fully supports any similar activities as they can only
be good for women, for the promotion of inclusive
But it must not stop there. “Ocean management without women will not
work, “Ocean management with women will work better, for more people,
for the longer term because it is based on larger community consensus.”
In Asia-Pacific, women are often the dominant users of marine resources,
with some becoming marine specialists – but much more can be done on
ways to identify gaps or barriers, and solutions, focusing on women and
girls in the developing world.


Ocean health is affected by actions on land and in many sectors and
industries. Integrated management seeks to acknowledge these multiple uses
and impacts, for more effective results. Integration should also include the
diverse user groups, including women and indigenous people.
Countries to commit to include women in integrated ocean management
planning, using best-practice strategies in acknowledgement of diverse and
unique cultures and also need for action on several fronts:
Building gender inclusivity and equality into project planning and
community development work; Investing in basic science, engineering,
technology and mathematics education for girls and women in the region;
and Supporting the inclusion of women and minorities in social,
professional and political roles at all levels.


CHALLENGES FACE BY WOMEN
Women’s experiences, voices, perspectives and household lives must be
included as factors in the solutions to the prodigious challenges facing the
oceans. These challenges include overfishing, plastic pollution, protecting
marine and coastal areas and climate change. Women are both involved and
can be part of the solutions to these challenges.


They play an essential role in food production; when women are given land
rights, seeds, technical training and access to markets, food productivity can
rise by more than 20%. It stands to reason that a parallel improvement in
productivity and sustainable livelihoods could be found in fishing and
aquaculture.


There are numerous reasons why women and men are treated differently,
and why women are often excluded from decision-making. These include
historic and culture-based biases, power imbalances, inadequate or
unenforced laws prohibiting discrimination, role restrictions, lack of
financial resources and control, and an acceptance of violence and
harassment as norms.


REMEDIES TO CHALLENGES
Further, much more data and research are needed to uncover the ways that
women are impacted in this sector. Data helps to magnify both the problems
and their solutions. At present there is little gender-disaggregated data from
catch to consumer to help inform policymakers, scientists and activists
seeking to improve the state of fishing and the oceans.


As funding is sought through governments, civil society, foundations and
the private sector, a ‘Women in Fishing’ venture fund or micro-financing
operation should be created to encourage women entrepreneurs and to
provide education and awareness. informal group of leaders from business,
science, technology, civil society and international organizations and its goal
is to help governments and the international community to fast-track
solutions to pollution, overfishing and other challenges facing the oceans.


Encourage the society to embrace gender in their proceedings. It can
continue to be at the forefront of gender parity and can ask its people to raise
gender issues, ensure women are at the table, urge governments and global
institutions to include gender in their deliberations and policies, and
encouarge ocean and sustainability groups to focus on gender. It can inspire
the creation of guidelines for other groups to follow such as asking for
gender balance on panel discussions, highlight the work of scientists and
environmental groups that focus on gender, work with those writing treaties
or laws, and suggest that local, regional, national and international bodies
have a critical mass of women in their deliberations.


In conclusion: Women may not have all the answers to solving the
challenges facing the oceans, but women’s answers must be heard if we
want to make the progress that is so essential to our lives and the life of the
planet.


Together, heads of state, ministers, policymakers, civil society groups and
other stakeholders must come together to honour commitments we have all
made to inclusivity in the coastal activies and guarantee that women are not
left behind.


It must also not be forgotten that this is not just about women’s roles in
developing the potential of the oceans, seas, lakes and rivers around the
world. It goes well beyond this.


By showing that women can succeed and thrive as entrepreneurs and
independent active agents of change and growth in the marine, we can
inspire women in all other sectors of society. If they can succeed in one
economy, why not in another? If a woman can rise to the top in a sector of
the marine industry.

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Effiong Martha 

Category: Youth
:
20 Years

FEDERAL COLLEGE OF
FISHERIES AND MARINE TECHNOLOGY

Nigeria