Role of women must be reinforced in EU marine policies: WWF policy brief

Posted on September, 26 2019

WWF calls on decision makers to embed gender equality in all development and conservation policies
Women play a key role in ensuring food security and sustainability of the global seafood sector, yet the knowledge, skills and decision-making tactics of both women and men are currently absent from discourse on natural resource management and adaptation to climate change. Gender equality and the role of women must be embedded in all conservation and development policies to ensure food security and deliver sustainable seafood at a global scale – this is the message from WWF to EU decision makers in a new policy brief, launched today. 

While 80-90% of the workforce in the global seafood processing industry and 70% of the aquaculture processing workforce is female, these positions exemplify gender disparity as they are mainly low-skilled, low-paid and low-valued jobs. The crucial role this group of stakeholders will play in the European and global sustainable blue economy is unveiled in the brief, as levelling the playing field between genders has already proven beneficial for environmental conservation and sustainability, as examples spanning from Turkey to the Galapagos demonstrate. A shift to better recognise and promote women in seafood is critically needed for our ocean, whose fish populations are already over two thirds fully fished or overfished.

Since 2016, the EU’s Gender Action Plan (GAP II), which translates EU policy and political
commitments to gender equality into a set of concrete objectives and whose implementation is mandatory for the EU and all Member States affirms the stake the EU holds in the issue. The Plan also directly contributes to the EU’s achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), including SDG 5, which focuses specifically on Gender Equality. 

Dr Anne-Cécile Dragon, Fisheries Policy Officer at the WWF European Policy Office said, “It’s time for EU decision makers to recognise the diverse roles women play in marine policy, governance, science and business, and to see that the contributions of women in these sectors are evolving to have increasing impacts on the fish that ends up on our plate, both in Europe and around the world. The EU must adopt and implement effective policies to address the diversity of gender roles and the underlying drivers of inequality in the seafood sector to reach key sustainability targets and secure a sustainable blue economy.”

WWF calls on decision makers to embed gender equality in all development and conservation policies. This will empower women to effectively fulfil their roles as environmental stewards whilst simultaneously addressing climate change and the interconnected social challenges we face as a global society. Key recommendations include:
  • Mandate gender-balanced participation in all seafood and fisheries-related management activities.
  • Make women in the seafood sector visible at all levels by acknowledging the role that both genders play throughout the entire seafood production chain, together with their respective contributions to increased social and environmental sustainability.
  • Ensure gender screening of all policies and programmes related to the seafood sector.
  • Promote the involvement of women in science and increase research on gender equality in the seafood sector, as the current lack of available data is significant.

Larissa Milo-Dale
Marine Communications Officer
+32 483 26 20 86
Policy Brief: Empowering women in marine communities to mitigate the impacts of climate change (September 2019)