Blue Economy: CSOs Task EU on Women Empowerment

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A coalition of civil society organisations(CSOs) at the Our Ocean 2017 Conference in Malta has urged the European Union Commission to mainstream women into its Blue Economy initiative.  The call was made by a coalition of CSOs including the Coalition for Fair Fisheries Agreement (CFFA), African Confederation of Artisanal Fisheries Professional Organisation (CAOPA), the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC) and the West African Network of Journalists for Responsible Fishing (REJOPRAO).

Linnea Engstrom of the Swedish Green Party and a member of the European Parliament said that the European Union is yet to mainstream women into its blue growth initiative. “I have not seen any document coming from the European Union Commission talking about women empowerment when it comes to fisheries,” said Engstrom at a side event organised by the CSOs in Malta.

“I want to say something about women because it is often neglected topic. Women make a central contribution to the ocean economy but they are less recognised and poorly paid.”

Micheline Dion Somplehi, head of women programme for CAOPA corroborated that “without women in fisheries, there will be no sustainable artisanal fisheries”.

 “When we look at the artisanal fisheries value chain, we can see that women are present along the whole value chain: they are not only the pillar of the fishing family but they are also often responsible for the pre-financing and the preparation of the fishing trips; it is the women who receive, sort out and distribute fishermen’s catches; it is also the women who process and market fish products in local and regional African markets and even on international markets. And in all these operations, the women are seeking solutions and for ways to improve their communities,” said Michelle at a side event organised by the CSOs in Malta.

For its part, the United Nation Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) policy on Gender Equality encourages stakeholders in the fishery value chain to pay due attention to “reducing gender and social inequalities”.

By Emeka Umejei

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