Establishment of the South African Network for Women in the Fisheries

23Oct 2021
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Establishment of the South African Network for Women in the Fisheries

The African Union Development Agency-NEPAD and the African Union InterAfrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) are supporting the formation of national chapters in the African Women Fish Processors and Traders Network (AWFISHNET) across the continent.

The technical support is against a backdrop where on theContinent, approximately 200 million people depend on fish as a cheap source ofprotein.

In addition, in a 2018 report by FAO, it was noted that 59.6 million peoplewere engaged in the fisheries and aquaculture sector, in which women accounted foronly 14% (8 344 000).

Nonetheless, even though women in Africa are integrally involved in thefish and aquaculture sector, their contributions are under-valued and oftengo unrecognised.  

It is for this reason that through Phase 2 of the FisheriesGovernance project (FishGov2) AU-IBAR and AUDA-NEPAD will besupporting 10 African countries to establish and formalise their nationalwomen’s chapters of African Women Fish Processors and TradersNetwork.

Dr Clement Adjorlolo, AUDA-NEPAD’s Fish Governance II Project Manager,facilitated the workshop in Pretoria for establishment of the South African Networkfor Women in the Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector.

The workshop was officiallyopened by Mr Belemane Semoli, Chief Director Aquaculture and EconomicDevelopment, Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment of South Africa.An opening statement was made by Dr Motseki Hlatshwayo, Technical FisheriesAdvisor from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) who declaredthat “The establishment of the network is a milestone for the region, seeing aswomen play a critical role along the fisheries value chain in utilising fisheriesresources not only for economic gains, but for nutritional and food security goals aswell.”

In the AUDA-NEPAD opening statement, Dr Bernice Mclean, Acting Head ofIndustrialisation, stated that it was an honour for AUDA-NEPAD and AU-IBAR tosupport this initiative.

“In terms of the establishment of the South African chapter, Ihave been fortunate enough to have joined the journey to establish this network overa year ago during the very early stages.

It is heartening to see how far the dedicatedgroup has come in the relatively short time and despite very real logistical and socio-economic challenges brought about by COVID-19. This really bodes well for thefuture success of the network,” Dr Mclean said. 

“This is a remarkable moment. Women in fisheries and aquaculture do not have tobe alienated or feel alone. We are going to be a force that will support one anotherand speak for women in the sector,” Mrs Mashebane Thosago, Interim Chairpersonof the South African Network for Women in the Fisheries and Aquaculture Sectorproclaimed in her opening statement.

In Africa, women are still faced by challenges such as access to capital/funding forwomen in the sector; lack or limited participation of women traders and producers inpolicy decision; high costs of fish production; limited information sharing on prices,markets, and training and educational opportunities amongst others.

Their work isoften undervalued and usually receives less pay for the same work as compared totheir male counterparts. On the other hand, family responsibilities limit their potentialin taking full advantages of the opportunities in the sector.

Their role in decision-making processes is limited in the governance institutions, communities and even athousehold level.

It has been recognised that participation of women in a collective action, self-helpgroups is a critical enabler in addressing gender inequality and facilitating necessaryreforms of oppressive norms and practices.

This brings about advocating for acommon “Women” voice ensuring meaningful participation in governance anddecision-making processes at all levels. The organisation of women involved in thesector will pave a way for engaging in the management of resources and providing aconduit for collaborating with government institutions.

Therefore, African WomenFish Processors and Traders Network’s general objective is to contribute toimproving the welfare, working conditions and income for women in fisheries andespecially in the post-harvest sector within the member states of the African Union.

“We implore partners present today to support the implementation of the keyagendas of the national chapter of African Women Fish Processors and TradersNetwork in order to support the welfare of women fish processors and traders as wellas enhancing intra-regional fish trade through trade corridors,” Mrs Patricia MweeneLumba, Senior Knowledge Management Officer said in a statement delivered onbehalf of Dr Nick Nwankpa, Acting Director of AU-IBAR.

The main objectives of the workshop in Pretoria were to form a national Chapter ofAWFISHNET, comprising of women active in fish farming, fish processors andtraders, and to deliberate and adopt a constitution and rules of procedure for thenational women network that is in line with the continental AWFISHNET guidelines.

In addition, members were able to vote in the network’s inaugural executive officebearers and collectively identified key tasks and action plan for the legaloperationalisation of the network. Participants at the workshop included fish andaquaculture producers, businesswomen, government representatives andrepresentatives from SADC. Through the technical implementation of FishGov2 by AUDA-NEPAD and AU-IBAR(with funding support from the European Union), ten countries in African areestablishing their national chapters of African Women Fish Processors and TradersNetwork. The countries are Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Liberia, Sierra Leone,South Africa, South Sudan, Tunisia and Zambia.


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