Happy International Women’s Day!
“I love fishing”
says Zubaida Ani from Teluk Bahang Kampung village, Penang, Malaysia, with a smile. While many women work in small-scale fisheries, few go out to sea, but there are exceptions like Ani. She and her husband Abdul Rahim fish together since many years. She is the mother of seven children, aged between 15-30 years old. Some of them have moved out, obtained higher education and started working outside of fisheries. But for those who remain at home, Ani cooks in the morning before going off with the boat to pull the nets. Ani and her husband share the revenue from their catch equally; he pays the bills and she shops for food items. Although to be honest, Ani admits she is typically the one making sure to put some money aside for family needs, like the children’s education or unforeseen events. “I’m the treasurer!” as Ani puts it, laughing.
A communication and outreach officer at the FAO, dedicated to raising awareness around small-scale fisheries and the SSF Guidelines.
You will not regret it!
Policy and decision makers on fisheries have traditionally been men, occupying positions of relevance within the political arena. However, women involved in this sector, from varied standpoints, have been and still are scarce. Researchers, fisheries ministers, community leaders, and fish traders are mostly men. Nevertheless, some advance is currently being done at integrating more ‘women in fisheries’ at varied levels, including community leadership, decision-and-policy making, and trade. Still, within the scientific fora, women working with small-scale fisheries are less represented in comparison to other disciplines. This is why science is such a critical arena in terms of investing resources and efforts in order to attract women. And small-scale fisheries sector could be the perfect opportunity to achieve this.
Let´s motivate more girls and young women to get involved within fisheries science, without the fear of it being perceived as a ‘topic for men only’. Let´s invite girls to read and get them more inspired about women scientists pursuing research and academic careers, and less about princess fairy tales.
María José Barragán-Paladines
A Science Director at the Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands. She was previously a Post-Doctoral Researcher within the Social Sciences Department, at the Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT) in Bremen, Germany. Her research interests include small-scale fisheries sustainability, fishing community viability, food security from the marine perspective, and marine resource governance.