Virtual Platform, 18 December 2023: TheSmall-Scale Fisheries sector plays an important role in the economy of countries like Bangladesh, India and Thailand. Despite the active participation of women in various activities including fish harvesting, processing and marketing processes, they are neglected in resources or services. Limited power in the decision-making process, lack of economic empowerment and their contribution to ownership over resources are still underestimated. To achieve sustainability in marine ecology and small-scale fisheries, gender equality is the most important thing that needs to be ensured. The event was funded by Swed-Bio. It aimed to focus on the gender disparities within small-scale fisheries, highlighting the importance of gender equality, social inclusivity and sustainable development.
The event was moderated by Sanat Kumar Bhowmik, COAST Foundation. Among the other participants, Ravadee Prasertcharoensuk, SDF, Thailand; Varunton Kwawtankam, SDF, Thailand; Prof. (Retd.) Dr. Md. Abdul Wahab, Center for Blue Resource Development, Bangladesh; Md. Sheikh Asad, Udayan Bangladesh; Gandhi Mathi Algar, Law-Trust, India; Harman Kumara, NAFSO, Sri Lanka; Susan Kaira, Indonesia were presented as panel speakers and shared their insights.
Apart, Supaporn Phanria, Southern Folk Fisheries Women’s Association, Thailand and Khairayah Rahmaniya, Youth Representative, Chanarkothin Network, Thailand and other fishers’ groups from India and Bangladesh shared the real-time challenges and tangible solutions in these regards.
Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, COAST Foundation, in his welcome speech, emphasized the challenges faced by small fishermen, including rule violations by large trawlers, technological disparities and societal attitudes towards fisherwomen. To face major challenges like climate change, it is needed for regional cooperation and concrete action plans.
Dr. Abdul Wahab highlighted the technological gender gap and social issues like child marriage in fishing villages, emphasizing the importance of skill development, alternative income generation and a common national-level platform. Khairayah Rahmaniya and Supaporn Fanria from Thailand discussed environmental threats, declining income and the importance of enhancing women’s skills in the face of crises.
Harman Kumara said to focus on giving attention to women’s contributions in small-scale fisheries and urged increased networking, advocacy with governments and ensuring youth involvement. Susan Kira stressed the need for gender-inclusive policies in the fisheries sector, challenging existing guidelines that predominantly favor men.
Gandhi Mathi Algar addressed the denial of women’s roles in decision-making processes, socio-economic disparities and the collective effort required to formulate and implement gender-sensitive policies.
Representatives of women fishers’ groups from different countries highlighted the barriers faced in terms of women fishers’ inclusion in government services and resources, wage inequality and safe working environment. They urged for immediate solutions. Apart, they raised demand to manage easy loan facilities for entrepreneurship, active political participation and increasing their access to education as well as employment. Aside from that various recommendations were made regarding joint collaboration, effective networking and the prioritization of gender equality to ensure sustainable small-scale fisheries and the well-being of those dependent on them.