The Executive Secretary of the Ministerial Conference on Fisheries Cooperation among African States Bordering the Atlantic Ocean (ATLAFCO), Mr Abdelouahed Benabbbou, has called on governments in the region to provide conducive conditions and frameworks that promote the active involvement of women in the fisheries sector.
He indicated that while women formed about 50 per cent of the active population of those working in the fisheries, same could not be said in respect to their involvement in the governance of the fisheries sector.
Mr Benabbbou was speaking in an interview to the topic of women's involvement in the fisheries sector at the ongoing ATLAFCO conference in Morocco.
It was organised by ATLAFCO on the theme, "Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture, Major Components of Inclusive Socio-economic Development," and in line with the declaration of the year 2022 as the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture (IYAFA) in 2017.
It is being attended by representatives from 18 member countries of ATLAFCO.
Mr Benabbbou because women were not heard, they were plagued with several challenges.
Insanitary work conditions
Key among these, Mr Benabbbou observed, was the fact that the conditions under which women in the fisheries worked remained insanitary in most member countries.
This, he said, needed to be significantly improved.
Such enhanced conditions of work, he said, would be in line with International Labour Organisation's accepted conditions.
Many of these women who work in the artisanal fisheries sector he further observed also lacked access to credit and the needed training required to expand their businesses.
These among other factors such as lack of adequate infrastructure and well-structured market systems, Mr Benabbbou said, often left these women in a cycle of poverty.
He stated that ATLAFCO for it's part was working with a network of women working in the fisheries in it's member countries and providing them support through capacity building workshops to strengthen their ability to advocate and negotiate for the enhanced opportunities and support from relevant authorities.
Again, he said ATLAFCO was supporting the women networks with training in Information Communication Technology within their work environment to enable them deploy such knowledge to enhance their businesses.
While acknowledging that the issues in the various ATLAFCO countries, more could be done in to promote women inclusion in the fisheries sector.
Delivering a presentation earlier on the place of women in the fisheries on ATLAFCO member countries, an official of ATLAFCO, Mrs Hayat Assara said women played very essential roles in sustaining the sector and a ripple effect in reducing poverty in the families and communities.
She indicated that though women played critical roles in fisheries especially in the processing and marketing of fish, the voices that dictated the prices in the sector still largely remained with the "strong men" often to the detriment of the women.
The President of the African Confederation of Artisanal Fishing Organizations, Mr Gueye Gaoussou for his part said taboos and culture practices continue to mitigate against the full potential of women's development in the fisheries and called for efforts to ensure women had their place in fisheries governance.
The Head of the Service at the Directorate of Marine Fisheries in Morocco, Mr Kandil for his part said there should a a commitment to consciously give women a voice in fisheries management.
He said the fact that about 25percent of fish was lost post-harvest was worrying and called for improved infrastructure to support women in the proper processing and marketing of fish to enhance food security.