Women and Ocean Workshop: the gender dimension in the marine science and practice
On the 30th of June, as a WIOMSA pre-symposium activity, Women in Marine Science Network (WiMS), in collaboration with Mundus maris, hosted a workshop to discuss the gender dimension in marine science and practice.
A total of 30 women – leading researchers, academics, scientists, policy makers, practitioners and students from Kenya, La Reunion, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, South Africa and Tanzania – came together to discuss “what could we start to do here and now together towards gender equity in the context of our work on conservation and sustainable use of the Western Indian Ocean ?”.
We started reminding ourselves of the major objectives of SDG 14 “Life below water” adopted together with 16 other interconnected sustainable development goals in 2015 by the UN General Assembly as part of Agenda 2030. Sharing our success stories on this field showed that we have made a meaningful impact on the lives of others. The participatory approach of the workshop enabled a dialogue on issues that matter to us as professionals while giving the opportunity to share best practices and knowledge across our respective fields of expertise and experience.
We watched the 6 minutes FAO video about the Sustainable Small Fisheries Voluntary Guidelines and had three rounds of conversations to address the challenges faced by coastal communities in the region, in particular women in artisanal fisheries. Exploring the gender dimension in the governance, fisheries value chains and social development aspects made us see opportunities for progress for fresh research and practice.
At the end of the day, we realized very clearly that together we can achieve things we couldn’t do as individuals, so we identified promising key levers for collaboration, through WiMS, towards better results on maritime challenges and gender equity in our professional careers. We concluded proposing ways we can work together, defining technical priorities, capacity building and advocacy activities such as (i) promoting scoping study on the roles, status and opportunities for women in small scale fisheries, (ii) stimulating capacity building and education for women in marine science and in fisheries communities, (ii) engaging in the development of policy briefs and position papers about women in sustainable small scale fisheries, (iv) encouraging research on gender gap analysis on fisheries by country and aggregate at regional level and (v) fundraising campaigns for projects which support communities and women in particular.
Based on the discussions and contributions made by the participants during the workshop and along the WIOMSA symposium, WiMS could organize follow-up activities in order to strengthen the network and provide services and support to its members. The following activities could be considered:
- Steering Committee regular monthly calls on a pre-agreed day and duration;
WiMS community calls to enhance the network and promote knowledge sharing. It could be thematic, regional or organized by another suitable criterion;
- Capacity building and knowledge sharing events (face-to-face and online) to promote the systematic consideration of gender dimensions in marine teaching and research (gender mainstreaming) through projects and policies;
- Development of a workplan to define key operational objectives, activities, budgets, outputs, expected results and indicators for monitoring;
- Definition of clear activities to promote knowledge sharing among members and between WiMS and society (success stories, interviews, case study documentation, capitalization of experiences and communication for visibility and advocacy);
- Definition of an integrated capacity building strategy combining trainings, mentoring, internships among other related activities.