On October 18 -20, 2018, USAID Oceans participated in the 7th Gender in Agriculture and Fisheries (GAF7) Conference in Bangkok, Thailand, organized by Gender in Aquaculture and Fisheries Section of the Asian Fisheries Society, held at the Asian Institute of Technology in Pathumthani, Thailand. The conference convened more than 150 experts, researchers, and practitioners from across the world to discuss strategies and knowledge to enhance and promote gender equity, empowerment, and inclusiveness in aquaculture and fisheries. Women make up half of Southeast Asia’s fisheries sector, often performing key processing and selling work that gets the seafood caught to local and international markets. Human welfare and gender equity is therefore a critical and emerging area of interest in fisheries management.
At the conference, USAID Oceans launched and distributed the Gender Research in Fisheries and Aquaculture: Training Handbook, developed collaboratively by the Gender in Aquaculture and Fisheries Section (GAFS) of the Asian Fisheries Society (AFS), leading academic experts, and USAID Oceans’ technical experts. This training guide was developed to build the capacity of practitioners, experts, and students working in fisheries and aquaculture in gender theory and practice through interactive presentations and case studies. It was immediately used by the workshop participants attending the GAF101 Workshop on “Using ‘Intersectionality’ in research on Gender in Fisheries and Aquaculture.” The Handbook is available online and has received great interest following its debut, viewed more than 300 times in over 60 countries. Download the Handbook.
The conference also presented an opportunity for USAID Oceans’ gender grantees, the National Network for Women in Fisheries in the Philippines, Inc (WINFISH) and Indonesia-based KELOLA to travel to Bangkok, Thailand, to meet with the USAID Oceans team, attend workshops at the USAID Regional Development Mission for Asia, and attached the GAF7 Conference. During their visit, the grantees also participated in a site visit to the social enterprise, Pla Organic, to learn how sustainable seafood projects can be transformed into sustainable market enterprises. In the grantees’ after trip report out, Dr. Rowena Gelvezon shared that,
Pla Organic started as a small-scale fishers and organic fishery products project funded by European union. To ensure its sustainability, this year the project was transformed into the Pla Organic Social Enterprise. The social enterprise is 95% owned by the fishers (total members now: 86,400 from 56 districts in south Thailand). It is managed by Earth Net Foundation, and fisher-members of the enterprise are provided trainings and financing to enable them to adopt sustainable fishing practices. This will ensure provision of safe fish to consumers as well as ensure sustainability of supply of fish.
We learnt one significant insight from Dr. Supaporn Anuchiracheeva of Earth Net Foundation, facilitator of Pla Organic Shop, on the success of a project. It is important to manage both the “supply side” (i.e., capability, technology and financing interventions for the fishers) and “demand side” (i.e., market matching and buyers). We also learned that the market is a very important aspect in fisheries activities. Creating a market by and which belongs to the fishers can ensure sustainability.
USAID Oceans gender grantees and USAID Oceans team at the Pla Organic Shop site visit. Photo Credit: USAID Oceans/Smita Yamsangsung
From October 18-20, the grantees attended the GAF7 Conference. Overall, the gender grantees expressed enthusiasm and optimism upon their participation. They acknowledged that the valuable lessons learned from the conference are applicable for their works in their home countries, and that the workshops at the GAF7 provided avenues to learn and discuss gender-related issues, concepts, and research that are useful for conducting gender analyses in their home countries. The gender grantees look forward to transferring such lessons learned to practice in order to forge collaborations with relevant stakeholders in the learning sites; engage more local gender champions to promote sustainable fisheries interventions; and engender local policies, plans and programs to incorporate gender sensitivity.
USAID Oceans gender grantees, a representative of Universitas Sam Ratulangi, and members of the USAID Oceans team at the USAID Oceans Bangkok Office. Photo Credit: USAID Oceans/Smita Yamsangsung