Saturday, 28 August 2021

Women are a mainstay of fishing in West Africa - but they are facing huge challenges brought about partly by Covid.


Throughout West Africa, the artisanal fishing sector is a crucial source of livelihoods and food security. For instance, in Nigeria artisanal fishing accounts for 80% of the fish consumed and supports the livelihoods of about 24 million people. Both men and women work in the sector, though the labour – throughout the region – is divided by gender. Men dominate fishing and production while women dominate post-harvest processing, such as dressing, sorting, salting and smoking the fish. Women also do most of the selling and marketing. Women thus play a crucial role in artisanal fishing. 

Research elsewhere shows that women in particular get a raw deal. Their contributions to the sector are widely un(der)paid, undervalued and largely invisible. This affects them in many ways – for instance, they have less access to capital and other resources. Because women don’t earn enough money, and are restricted in their roles within fisheries, they don’t have the buying power to purchase enough fish to earn a living for long periods of time. They also don’t have access to the required processing and storage facilities to avoid fish loss through spoilage.