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Women in seafood: A spotlight on the Maldives

IPNLF publishes a scoping study into the roles of women in the Maldives’ one-by-one tuna fishery supply chains

Women play a pivotal role in fisheries around the world. Contrary to the widespread perception that fishing is a male-dominated activity, studies have shown that close to half of the workers in capture fisheries and associated supply chains are women. 

With the emergence of international commitments such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the FAO Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small Scale Fisheries, there has been a renewed effort to quantify the contribution of women in fisheries supply chains and to integrate this data into policy. 

Many agencies are embracing strategic initiatives to put gender more firmly on the fisheries agenda, by building the evidence base, engaging in advocacy and networking to voice issues, especially those in which vulnerabilities are strongly gender biased.

Despite the high social importance that one-by-one tuna fisheries have within Maldivian culture, no studies have explored the contributions women bring to these fisheries in any detail. In order to shine a light on the roles of women in Maldivian tuna supply chains, IPNLF partnered up with the University of Dalhousie to conduct a scoping study into tuna supply chains in Naifaru, Lhaviyani Atoll.

The study was conducted by Peter Wessels, MSc graduate from the University of Dalhousie, and supported by the Waitt Foundation and IPNLF. The latest report in IPNLF's Social Dimensions series presents the findings from this scoping study. Peter’s data, primarily collected through interviews conducted over a two-month period in July and August of 2016, highlighted many of the unobserved roles and responsibilities of women; in pre-harvesting, harvesting and post-harvesting activities. Further, the research illustrated the potential women have for enhancing these fisheries if given the resources and recognition. Learn more about Peter's findings on the roles women are occupying in the full report here.

IPNLF remains committed to understanding women’s contribution to the one-by-one tuna industry and to raising awareness of gender issues among public and private stakeholders to promote professional equality between men and women in the seafood industry.