Gender Seminar Conducted and ASEAN Gender Network Launched

The Gender and Aquaculture Seminar: Equity and Regional Empowerment in the Aquaculture Value Chain, a culminating activity for the NACA/USAID/MARKET Project’s Thematic Studies of Gender in Aquaculture, was held on 24 to 25 February 2015 in Bangkok. The year-long project conducted research on womens’ roles and influence on selected aquaculture value chains in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam.

The goal of the research was to raise awareness and increase recognition of gender roles, policies and programs in the aquaculture industry in the selected countries to support more sustainable and responsible development. The outcomes and recommendations of the thematic studies were presented at the seminar, as part of the dissemination strategy for raising awareness, and to obtain feedback from other gender practitioners in the region. The seminar also provided a venue for public and private sector stakeholders to share their current activities supporting gender equity and empowerment in the aquaculture value chains. Discussions on creating opportunities to harness contributions of women provided insights on how an enabling environment especially in policy and engaging communities and the private sector could encourage equity and empowerment. In addition, a the panel discussion on gender education, training and capacity building revealed insufficiency in current capacities in the academic arena for gender inclusion, as well as the urgent need for equipping practitioners with tools in the field.

The lack of gender disaggregated data in aquaculture value chains has also been seen as a major issue, which will have an impact on formulating relevant policies on gender integration in aquaculture, business decisions and project interventions. The seminar was attended by project partners from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam, and from relevant and interested stakeholders from universities, NGOs, and private sector in the ASEAN, including NACA and USAID/MARKET team.

Sharing experiences by those involved in varied networks for gender or other fields in various parts of the world provided a good lead on towards the introduction and launch of the ASEAN Gender in Aquaculture Practitioners’ Network. As the aquaculture sector has become increasingly aware of the importance of gender sensitivity and integration in all its activities, there is a need for people working in this area to have a gender perspective. Currently there are a number of aquaculture practitioners and stakeholders advocating for gender integration and mainstreaming in aquaculture activities. In addition, there are already women involved in aquaculture and working alongside with the men. As they learn and gain experiences, there is a need to be able to share this knowledge so more people will become more aware and gain a gender perspective. This network therefore will be composed of people who are interested in advocacy for gender integration in aquaculture.

The objectives of the network are to promote gender integration in aquaculture and fisheries, advocate for and advance the status of women in aquaculture in ASEAN, assist practitioners in implementing projects which integrate gender at all levels, serve as a venue for information exchange and experiences sharing, conduct capacity building activities on gender development in aquaculture, and promote collaboration among organizations and development projects. The network will also be responsive to emerging issues at the regional level which have implications on gender issues in aquaculture.

During its launch, a set of activities for the first six months has been set-up by the members. This includes strategic planning, networks mapping, writing of concept notes/proposals, setting up a website and fund sourcing. The Gender Programme at NACA in Bangkok will coordinate network activities.

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