The need to uncover, interrogate, and integrate women’s contributions to fisheries in research and development has never been clearer. As coastal and fisheries management continues to look to the Sustainable Development Goals and the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication, as frameworks and mandates, gender equity and equality have become a central concern.
Women play an important role within small-scale fishing communities in sub-Saharan Africa through engaging in fish value chain activities and contributing to household food security and income. There is, however, little empirical information about the nature of women’s engagement in small-scale fishery value chains and the outcomes of that engagement especially in Malawi, our study country.
Improving livelihoods and livelihood opportunities is a popular thrust of development investments. Gender and other forms of social differentiation influence individual agency to access, participate in, and benefit from existing, new, or improved livelihood opportunities. Recent research illustrates that many initiatives intended to improve livelihoods still proceed as “gender blind,” failing to account for the norms and relations that will influence how women and men experience opportunities and outcomes.
Theme: Investment in Women and Girls in Science for Inclusive Green Growth
Skills in science, technology, engineering and math drive innovation and are critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Women and girls are vital in all these areas. Yet they remain woefully under-represented. Gender stereotypes, a lack of visible role models and unsupportive or even hostile policies and environments can keep them from pursuing these careers.
Since the 1980s, aquaculture production in Egypt has grown rapidly, adding substantially to the supply of affordable fish to domestic markets. As a result, aquaculture markets have become a strategic food sector that contributes to nutrition security and sustains substantial employment opportunities for informal retailers, many of whom are women. However, the informal nature of fish retailing can result in different forms of insecurity relating to insufficient lending arrangements, risk of postharvest losses and poor returns, and threat of harassment or arrest.
Research suggests restrictive gender norms and attitudes particularly impact women’s retailing businesses, resulting in smaller enterprises, more limited diversity of species and lower value products being sold compared to men retailers.
The Empowering Women Fish Retailers (EWFIRE) project will be implemented in Sharkia, Lower Egypt. Through its interventions, the project will test different value chain development strategies for improving women’s economic empowerment (defined as employment generation and improved profitability).
EWFIRE will deliver on its main targets of economic empowerment of women fish retailers through seven outcomes. These relate to the improved capacity of women beneficiaries regarding their social capital (group membership, legitimacy, bargaining power, market linkages); physical resources (processing centers, equipment); financial resources (village savings and loan associations, formal credit markets); human resources (technical training, business development skills, market information and online resources); and the establishment of new product lines and sustainable business models.
The project will deliver on these targets through five activity work plans. These relate to supporting development of women-led retailer collectives; establishing/equipping five fish processing centers; delivering training on conflict resolution, entrepreneurship and marketing; developing sustainable business models; and strengthening market relations of women retailers.
The project aims to generate full-time employment for 300 women through the establishment of 50 new women-led enterprises and improve the profitability of 100 existing women retailers.