Fish Night 7: Gender equality in the seafood value chain

Date: Monday, 8 March 2021
Where: Online
Women spreading fish on a drying rack

The Mshikamano women group based in Mwanza in Lake Victoria learn about the stages of fish processing. Here they are spreading silver fish on the raised drying racks before deep frying (Photo: copyright EMEDO)

This online event on International Women's Day heard about the importance of women in the seafood industry, the impacts of challenges such as COVID-19 and climate change on women, and how gender equality can be championed in the sustainable blue recovery.

Small-scale artisanal fisheries and aquaculture value chains are important for the livelihoods of coastal communities worldwide. Women play a pivotal role in small-scale fisheries around the world.

Close to half of the 40 million people worldwide who work in small-scale fisheries are women. Women dominate the post-harvest handling, processing, selling of fresh fish, packaging and marketing of seafood. Yet the seafood industry is characterised by pervasive gender inequalities and the work of women is still mostly ignored, invisible, unrecognised and undervalued.

At this Fish Night on International Women’s Day, we heard from women working in the seafood industry, in practical and research roles, in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.

Our speakers shared their insights and experience of the roles and practices of women and men in the sector, gender inequality and women's rights. We learned about how overexploitation, climate change and COVID-19 have impacted on women's livelihoods and wellbeing, and how they responded to these pressures.

In the lead up to the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture (IYAFA) in 2022, this event explored what needs to happen to raise the profile of women. How can we ensure both women and men champion gender equality? What commitments do we need to see and from whom? And what will a sustainable and inclusive blue recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic look like?


Juliette Tunstall (, IIED's internal engagement and external events officer