Mildred Mercene-Buazon doesn’t mince words when clarifying that gender equity is not about just counting the numbers of women and men present in a room. One first needs to start with appreciating the minority sex. “Appreciation is the biggest gap in gender work,” says Mercene-Buazon. The roles and contributions of women in fisheries were not fully appreciated, she says, particularly by policymakers. Though they contribute significantly in activities beyond harvesting, “they are being counted always in the hemline.”
As the Chief Administrative Officer and Vice-Chair of the Gender Focal Point System for the Philippines Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Central Office, Mercene-Buazon channels further inspiration from another gender specialist: Arlene “Jigsz” Nietes Satapornvanit. They both worked on the USAID Oceans and Fisheries Partnership, an initiative combatting illegal fishing in Southeast Asia that also supported an electronic traceability system for the Filipino tuna fishery. They worked to address human welfare and gender for the program. One simple method to foster gender awareness, says Jigsz? Feature a woman in their supply chain graphics, which they did.