Fish Night 7: Gender equality in the seafood value chain


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.

Last updated 10 March, 2021
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)

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?

Event coverage

Watch a full recording of the event below or on IIED's YouTube channel.

IIED's Twitter account also provided live coverage of the key remarks.

About the speakers

Editrudith Lukanga is co-founder and executive director of Environmental Management and Economic Development Organization (EMEDO), a local not-for-profit organisation working in areas of environment and natural resources governance.

Kyoko Kusakabe is a professor of gender and development studies at the Department of Development and Sustainability, School of Environment, Resources and Development, Asian Institute of Technology in Thailand.

Madeleine Gustavsson is a researcher at Ruralis based in Trondheim, Norway. Madeleine's research focuses on fisheries, coastal communities, gender relations and identities as well as the blue economy, the environment and rural society.

Bertha del Carmen Martínez Villalobos has over 30 years’ experience in seafood processing. She is a business entrepreneur with expertise in product development and marketing, research, and finance.

Cristina Pita (moderator) is a principal researcher and team leader in IIED's Shaping Sustainable Markets research group. Her research focuses on small-scale fisheries, the impact of COVID-19 on small-scale fisheries and market initiatives to add-value to small-scale fisheries products.

About Fish Night

IIED's Fish Night events bring together people from academia, government, NGOs, fisherworkers’ collectives, associations and networks to discuss issues around sustainable fisheries, aquaculture and oceans governance and to demystify complex theories and scientific findings.

The events also create space to share hard-earned lessons and are intended to inspire change to create fisheries that work today and into the future.

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Juliette Tunstall ([email protected]), IIED's internal engagement and external events officer