Gender mainstreaming in Fiji’s offshore fisheries sector
This was the general outcome of discussions at a Gender Mainstreaming in the Offshore Fisheries consultation between stakeholders in Fiji’s offshore fisheries sector and organisations that carry out work around the issues relating to gender.
The workshop that was held at the Novotel Suva Lami Bay was made possible through the Developing Sustainable and Responsible Tuna Longline Fisheries in Fiji project that is funded by the New Zealand government and a project partnership between the Fiji Fishing Industry Association (FFIA), Ministry of Fisheries, Fiji Maritime Academy and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
In addition to the consultation, a gender analysis is being carried out to improve understanding and knowledge of the different implications when addressing gender inclusion and gender mainstreaming in the development of the tuna industry in Fiji, and how these challenges can be effectively addressed.
The consultation with stakeholders was to ensure that the relevant stakeholders were also consulted and their input taken onboard in the preparation of the gender analysis report.
‘The outcome of this (gender analysis) report is intended to inform stakeholders, create awareness and understanding, provide space for discussion, and encourage action where this is seen to further improve this sector,’ added WWF-Pacific’s Developing Sustainable and Responsible Tuna Longline Fisheries in Fiji project manager, Seremaia Tuqiri.
Preliminary findings indicate that despite policies aimed at creating employment, women’s contribution to the offshore fisheries sector labour force is impacted by cultural beliefs, traditional norms, and gender stereotypes.
For instance, there is greater participation of women in the Management/Administrative section and processing areas and lowest in the actual fishing activity at sea.
Gender specialist, Ms Aliti Vunisea added that given Fiji has adopted international and regional treaties such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda (SDG 5) on gender equality and women empowerment, the Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration (2012) and with a Fiji National Gender Policy in place, this should be reflected as well on Fiji’s offshore fisheries sector.
The FFIA welcomed the consultation as it allowed stakeholders to discuss and to try and find solutions to addressing gender-related issues.
“It is unfortunate that when all the international and regional treaties on discrimination of women at the workplace were ratified by Government, the fishing industry was never consulted prior to and after by Government, however FFIA would like to thank the people of New Zealand through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and project partners MoF, FMA and WWF for conducting this workshop to provide awareness on gender mainstreaming. In the last 15 years, we have noted the increase of women’s involvement, both in Government and the private sector of the industry.”
“We have very less involvement out at sea and to get more women involved here, first we must ensure that our vessels are designed to adequately cater them. Most of our fishing vessels are more than 40 years old and do not have separate crew cabins, washroom facilities etc. for both sexes and at the same time, vessel owners are reluctant to take ladies on their vessels since they do not want to be accountable to any sexual harassment, abuse or worse, rape, on their vessels.”
“However, given time, one day we surely will have a fully manned fishing vessel by women and this can only happen when the support is given by all those having a stake in the sector with the relevant policies and laws in place,” said FFIA in a statement.
The outcome of the consultations and the finalisation of the gender analysis report will assist the Pacific Community (SPC) on the work at the regional level and the Fiji report will be used as a case study for a handbook on gender in the offshore fisheries sector among other case studies from the region.
“The offshore fisheries sector is normally considered as a man’s domain. What we are learning from these consultations is that when you are addressing gender you are not just addressing the issues of women. It’s across the board that deals about the process of understanding the roles of men and women in the fisheries sector and I think that is one of the main things that we are trying to come to understand how both genders can contribute effectively and be very productive in the areas that they work in and we have been seeing that there are certain places where perhaps its more male dominated,” Tuqiri highlighted.
“This analysis report will add to the body of knowledge that already exists. We are also hoping to take it a step further by seeing that this work doesn’t end as an activity but will inform the stakeholders on what they can do to improve the current situation,” added Tuqiri.
Participants that were part of the workshop were representatives from the FFIA, MoF, FMA, Ministry of Labour, Fiji Revenue & Customs Authority, ILO, UN Women, Pacific Community, Women in Maritime Association (Fiji), Fiji Navy, Fiji Women’s Fund, Pacific Conference of Churches, Social Empowerment and Education Program, Medical Services Pacific, Steering Fiji Women’s Seafarers Association, University of the South Pacific, Fiji National University Fisheries, Pacific Island Forum Secretariat, Fiji Police, Fiji Women Crisis Centre and the Ministry of Health.
The gender analysis report for Fiji’s offshore fisheries sector will be finalised by the end of the month.