Profit is important to all fishers; but fisherwomen often closely interlink profit to sustainability.
We at the Institute of Marine Resources of the University of the South Pacific acknowledge that Pacific women and men come with individual roles and perspectives that make different but equally valuable contributions to fisheries and aquaculture sectors.
However, we also recognize that pre-existing and persistent gendgender-specificriers such as inequitable access to resources, trainings and education, decision-making, financing, markets, fair working conditions and treatment, put women fishers and entrepreneurs within the fisheries and aquaculture sectors at a significant disadvantage.
The USP Pacific-European Union Marine Partnership (PEUMP) project of the Institute of Marine Resources is actively working to address these through the development of the Pacific’s very first Gender and Environment post graduate course. The course examines examples of dynamics and issues around gender equity and social inclusion, contextualized to the Pacific region and equips students with tools for intervention. The course further integrates a range of scientific works and the Pacific Handbook for Gender Equity and Social Inclusion in Coastal fisheries and Aquaculture. While these are specific to fisheries and aquaculture, many of the insights and responses may be transferrable to other sectors such as agriculture, forestry, water and energy, biodiversity conservation and climate change.
It is also worth mentioning our efforts and achievements in fostering women’s participation in research and capacity building roles within the USP PEUMP project. We are proud to say that 70% of our project team consists of women providing capacity building to PICs within the fisheries sector; and 50% of total PEUMP funded trainees in the past 3 years to date from around the Pacific region are women.
Moreover, 60% of our USP PEUMP funded research students consist of women; some of which have published papers with esteemed publications such as the Frontiers in Marine Science. Mrs Salanieta Kitolelei our PEUMP funded PhD Candidate recently published a journal titled Fisherwomen’s Indigenous and Local Knowledge – the Hidden Gems for the Management of Marine and Freshwater Resources in Fiji with the Frontiers in Marine Science journal. The study by Ms. Kitolelei sheds light on the wealth of indigenous local knowledge that women fishers possess as daily users of marine resources, as well as how they link this knowledge not only with profit but also the sustainability of the marine resources and food security of their families.
USP PEUMP has made strides in the gender journey; but we have still a way to go before we can confidently proclaim a gender balanced fisheries and aquaculture sector – or world.
Together with all our stakeholders across the Pacific, we will continue to promote and build on the spirit of balance from all genders; as we firmly believe that an equal world can help us find sustainable solutions that address social inequalities, food insecurity and critical environmental challenges in the Pacific region.
Embrace equity. Stronger together.
Happy International Women’s Day from the USP PEUMP Project!