According to the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), women hold the 47% globally, amongst the 120 million people, who earn money directly from fishing and processing. The IMO-supported event WOMESA highlighted the challenges that women face in the Blue Economy, as the fishing sector is thought to be predominantly male.
Jackline Auma is a fisherwoman from Shakababo Lake in Kenya’s Tana River Delta. In comparison to other women working in fisheries, Mrs Auma owns her own boat and she also rents her boat to others and employs several people in processing positions.
As Mrs Auma reported she was often told that the ocean was ‘no place for a woman‘. She even struggled to secure capital to purchase her boat.
Unless these barriers are highlighted, they tend to be trends that result to women being marginalized in the Blue Economy.
According to the IDRC there are four major challenges that women face in the Blue Economy:
Blue Economy is thought to be a mass exploitation of untapped resources through large investments. Thus, big companies don’t reach the small scale fisheries, where women usually work.
Despite the fact that women provide more than 85% of the landed catch, even when investment is available it reaches men first.
Social attitudes frown on and punish women for being in certain spaces.
Discriminatory gender and social stereotypes ban women from taking part in areas of the Blue Economy.
Research results in Malawi and Zambia rose awareness of gender dynamics in fish processing. This resulted, to locals having additional ideas for changes in cultural and social norms that challenge the idea that it is sufficient for projects to merely include women in order for research or development to be empowering and transform gender dynamics.
Women engaged in the Blue Economy lack access to capital, investments, and equipment to grow their businesses.
Specifically, in 2016, almost 81% of Kenya’s women-to-women business partnerships were denied loans, even from microfinance institutions. Financial institutions must recognize that women are building their capacity and their businesses are bankable.
- Lack of women’s voices
Another important barrier is that women’s voices are absent in their majority. Yet, women’s movements are moving forward to push their participation in development and planning processes, as they demand accountability from governments.