SSF Women united will never be defeated

SSF women

March 7, 2024

“ We thank the Mother of the Sea

who had gifted life for us and our children

and our grandchildren….”.

This is the way our mothers and grandmothers live in harmony with the sea, fully aware of the deep connection between their lives, those of their families, and the resources provided by our motherland for a life of dignity and prosperity. However, this is not the reality unfolding around the world, where anthropogenic activities driven by capitalism, investment, and profit-seeking disrupt the balance between humans and nature, disregarding the lives of our ancestors passed down through generations.

With a shared vision and a commitment to fostering unity and solidarity among women across the Asian and Pacific Region, our dynamic Regional Advisory Group convened in Colombo, Sri Lanka from March 20th to the 25th, alongside the Asian and Pacific FAO Regional Conference (APRC). This gathering united representatives from nine Asian countries, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and New Zealand/Aotearoa, and hosted the first meeting of the Regional Platform for SSF Women in the Asia and Pacific Region.

Within the APRC, the group organized a non-official APRC Side event titled “Small-Scale Fishers’ Solutions for the Concrete Implementation of the SSF Guidelines in Asia and the Pacific“. This event showcased the outcomes of the 2022 RAG A&P Regional Assessment Report and delved into constructive political discussions to fight against the continuing marginalization of small- scale Fisher Peoples and Indigenous Peoples in the Region.

National policies often persist in favouring foreign fishing companies and large-scale fisheries investments, at times labelling SSF and their advocacy for improved conditions as aggressive and a threat to civil security, necessitating police intervention. Despite this prevailing trend, the group also touch base on positive experiences where certain local governments are presently implementing measures that prioritize the rights of small-scale fisheries. This indicates that change is achievable when governments are willing to act.

During the first SSF Women Regional Forum, the group promptly engaged in a constructive discourse on the primary gender issues confronting SSF women in the Asia and Pacific Regions. The patriarchal system undermines the acknowledgment of women as fisherwomen, relegating them solely to domestic responsibilities and neglecting their significant contributions to the well-being of their households and the preservation of natural resources. Each participating country shared its unique experiences, acknowledging recent successes achieved at the national level and highlighting the key challenges that still require resolution. Despite variations, women in SSF and its value chain continue to face marginalization within the marginalized. In many countries, women are still not officially recognized as fishers, hindering their ability to obtain fishing licenses and associated benefits. Limited access to markets perpetuates economic marginalization, and their exclusion from decision-making processes persists, despite their widely acknowledged contributions to pre and post-harvest activities.

The collective realization is that building solidarity and fostering common advocacy actions, both at the national and regional levels, can make a significant difference for women in SSF. This concerted effort lays the groundwork for a transformative shift in power structures, ultimately advancing gender justice in SSF.

Our statement for International Women’s Day

Read the statement