By Tabora Bojang
The fisheries sector of The Gambia has an estimated 200,000 people directly or indirectly dependent on it, with a greater percentage of actors along the value chain being women. But despite these facts women are not adequately represented in management and decision-making processes like their male counterparts.
To address these gaps, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations FAO is providing funding to the Ministry of Fisheries and Water Resources to support the capacity building and establishment of a gender desk at the Ministry that will be tasked to systematically look at fisheries related activities to ensure that overall priorities for women equal participation and gender equality and equity are identified and promoted.
The FAO EAF- Nansen Programme under the organisation’s Northwest Africa Shared Sardinella Project was launched in Gambia in 2017 to improve knowledge and support sustainable fisheries management based on the ecosystem approach to fisheries, build the human and organisational capacities and promotion of gender equality and the effective participation of women in the fisheries sector.
Speaking at a 3 days training on the topic theory of change theme 1 on Fisheries Resource Management held at the Kairaba Tuesday, FAO country representative Moshibudi Rampedi said the organisation remains fully committed to supporting the mainstreaming of gender in all aspects of Gambia’s fisheries sector.
According to the South African diplomat, equal participation of both men and women in fisheries and aquaculture is crucial in meeting global food gaps and fighting against poverty, as total food demand is projected to increase by 60 percent in 2050.
“The contribution of women and youths to the fisheries sector is often poorly documented, resulting in a relatively low capacity of fisheries officers and decision makers to mainstream gender in the development and implementation of national fisheries policies and plans,” Dr. Moshibudi lamented.
The Director of Fisheries Anna Mbenga-Cham stated that despite the significant contributions of women in the post-harvest fisheries sector, they are still faced with specific and additional challenges beyond capacity.
She disclosed that an institutional approach for gender mainstreaming is being pursued under the project for the inauguration of national gender desks to ensure gender issues are considered in all policies and interventions within the fisheries sector.
Permanent secretary Omar Gibba disclosed the fisheries sector plays an enormous role in local livelihoods and the national economy contributing about 12.1 percent to the GDP.
He reiterated that the ministry’s resolve to ensure gender issues are adequately captured in its proposed new legislation.
“We want to be a model not only for other ministries but also for other countries in the sub-region when it comes to gender mainstreaming in fisheries,” Gibba stated.