Hen Mpoano working to achieve gender equality in fishing communities

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Hen Mpoano, a Coastal Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) committed to ensuring sustainable management of coastal resource and marine ecosystems has purposed to eliminate all forms of violence against women in the marine fisheries sector.

 FisheryThis, they intend to do through the Women in Fisheries Against Violence (WIFVEs) project funded by the European Union (EU) with Central and Western Fishmongers Improvement Association (CEWEFIA) as its partner.

The three-year project aims to achieve gender equality in fishing by advocating against Gender-Based Violence (GBC), abuse and discrimination in Ghana’s Marine fisheries sector.

Mrs Adiza Ama Owusu, Project Manager of the WiFVEs project said the project had been designed to be implemented in 18 Marine fishing communities in the Central and Western Regions.

Addressing stakeholders at a validation workshop on a baseline assessment and GBV analysis conducted as part of the project, she indicated that the project would develop the capacity of all including leaders of fisherfolk in preventing and responding to GBV in their fishing communities.

She said it would also give entrepreneurship and livelihood skills to women at risk and victims of GBV in the two Regions.

Giving a summary of findings of the GBV analysis conducted in the project communities, Dr. Amanda Odoi, a Research Consultant at the University of Cape Coast (UCC) noted that diverse issues of exploitation existed in the fishery industry.

This, she said covered issues of physical abuse, verbal, emotional abuse, sexual harassment, extortion, cheating, non-payment for loans and salaries, breach of agreement, among others.

She said the phenomenon of sex or relationship for fish and others were normalized in the fisheries industry.

Dr Odoi maintained that the drivers of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) in the fisheries line of work were the same as those present in the general community.

To this end, she encouraged the project to design activities to address such issues and help create a conducive environment in the fishing communities for the desired development.

She identified power, poverty, lust, harmful social norms, and stereotypes about people as some of the reasons attributed to the presence of SGBV in the fisheries industry.

Mr Moro Haruna, a research consultant who conducted the baseline assessment recommended that the process of social engineering should be made community led, adding that opinion leaders and household be used as the anchor for effective mindset changes.

He said by 2024, skills of both women and men should be built to develop additional livelihoods especially for men as their main income sources are not sustainable.

According to the consultant, leadership of the fishing industry in the various communities should be equipped and introduced formal structures in addressing issues of exploitation in their field.

Mr. Haruna further said the project must individually empower fisher folks to settle issues amicably among themselves considering their closed nature and their preference of handling their issues internally and by themselves.

By GNA Reporter

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