After over a Century of celebration, the 8th of March is still loaded with women protests for equality. It is a day to celebrate the participation of women in segments in all societies. It is a day to remember that prejudices and discriminations are still obstacles to their full participation in many sectors.
This is definitely true in the political arena, in industries such as the movie industry where women claim for more space and recognition … In this global picture, the seafood industry is no exception. At world scale the seafood industry, all activities included, offers work to 120 million workers of which half of them are women. But how much does their total income represent? 10%? How far laws and regulations have taken their situations into account? How many CEO position are held by women? 1% says the latest researches. But today women in the seafood industry from different parts of the globe have decided to claim their fair share of the media attention. Here are a few remarkable examples, amongst many.
The Australian Women’s Industry Network Seafood Community (WINSC) unveils on its website the portraits of tens of women working in all segments of the industry, from fisherwomen to plant managers, from professors to seafood vendors.
“The purpose is to make women that work in seafood industries 'very visible' visible to each other, visible to their communities and industries, visible to the decision makers. Women are an incredibly essential link in the seafood community chain and we want the world to know about them” explained Leonie Noble the president of WINSC. http://winsc.org.au/international-womens-day/
MATIS the Icelandic company in charge of setting up the World Seafood Congress in Reykjavik in September 2017 waited the 8th of March to launch a video contest, asking participants to bring attention to gaps and challenges as well as encourage a stronger, global collaboration of Women in Seafood. This contest is open here www.womeninseafood.
In the UK, Seafish authority is also supporting the International Women's Day with a series of case studies to showcase UK women already working in the sector. http://www.seafish.org/training/careers/women-in-seafood
“We at Seafish are committed to reaching a better gender balance for industry. We are also supporting some new research to move the conversation on, we're asking to seafood leaders 'so, what's stopping you at? And the results will be soon published" told Mel Groundsell UK Seafish, Corporate Relations director. See the survey here https://www.internationalwomensday.com/
Have you ever heard of men launching a specific website to present their profiles? No. Because they don’t need it. In the seafood industry every day is a men’s day and the unbalance is to their advantage.
I do remember attending the 2012 North Atlantic Seafood Forum, the global seafood conference which gathers hundreds of business leaders. That year, out of 70 speakers no more than 5% were women. Under the pressure of individual feminists, including myself and the pressure of large sponsors such as FAO, the NASF organisers have made a real effort to improve the gender balance of speakers. We are pleased to see that this year, the NASF will give the mic to 19% women speakers. What does it say? That with a little effort and good will things can be done differently.
It is time for the seafood industry to change attitudes and for women to continue the battle. To this purpose, together with Pascale Baelde and other professionals we have founded the International Association for Women in the Seafood Industry (www.WSI-asso.org). WSI offers a platform to share ideas and elaborate ways to increase recognition of women working in this industry. WSI is compiling initiatives such as the one above. If you know more, don’t hesitate to share with us. We will also be at the Icelandic Fisheries Exhibition, stand A70 to increase women visibility in the seafood industry.