Women fish processors raise awareness of gender inequality

FAO/Eddie Gerald
FAO/Eddie Gerald

Women fish processors and a women’s nutrition group used celebrations for IYAFA 2022 to raise awareness of gender inequality in the small-scale fisheries and aquaculture industries in Malawi.  Members of the Tikondane Women’s Club described to representatives of the Food and Agriculture Organisation in Malawi and the Malawi government that they face particular difficulties when they compete to buy fish on the shores of Lake Malawi and to transport it to market.

FAO/Eddie Gerald
FAO/Eddie Gerald

One member of the Women’s Club, Judith Muphuwa, said that fish is often sold before it even reaches dry land, creating a problem for women as they are not traditionally represented in the catching part of the industry. Women also have less bargaining power as they have less capital and end up paying higher prices for fish to process and then trade. Sometimes, women are subjected to sexual harassment and abuse when they try to buy supplies.

Women at the IYAFA 2022 launch said they were extremely pleased that a year had been set aside to think about small-scale people involved in the small-scale fish value chains in Africa and worldwide and were hopeful that this focus would attract solutions to their daily challenges.

The female fish processors and nutritionists used the occasion to display more unusual products such as fish sausages, fish biscuits and fish doughnuts, and to showcase some of their preserving techniques. In Africa, women make up on average half of the workforce in the post-harvest and service sectors. This opens opportunities for women’s employment, promoting equality and creating better lives. In subsistence fishing, over half of the workforce are women.

The lack of fish landing sites with sufficient storage and processing facilities also came under the spotlight at the IYAFA 2022 launch – which was held at Salima in Chikombe Beach – with pledges being made of investment and development to improve this.

The FAO Deputy Country Representative in Malawi, Ackson Matemanga, said he shared the IYAFA 2022 vision of a world where small-scale fish industry workers are fully recognised and empowered to continue contributing to human well-being, nutritious and healthy food systems, poverty eradication, and the FAO goal of Zero Hunger through their responsible and sustainable use of resources.

In Africa, the industries employ 5.4 million people, providing valuable nutrition to millions of others who often have no other access to protein. Around 55 million livelihoods are dependent on them. Small-scale fisheries and aquaculture provide the most readily available animal-sourced foods in rural parts of Malawi.



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