Tackling gender gaps in Fisheries: FFA, SPC inaugural GESI Forum

by FFA Media | 11 April 2024 | Media releases

FFA in partnership with SPC hosted its first ever Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) in Fisheries Forum this week. Pictured from left, SPC Principal Strategic Lead – Pacific Women and Girls Mereseini Rakuita, Cook Islands Hon. Minister Vainetutai Rose Toki-Brown, Niue Minister of Natural Resources Hon. Mona Ainu’u and FFA Director General Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen. Photo: SPC-PEUMP/Josaia Nanuqa

The Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) in collaboration with the Pacific Community (SPC), hosted its first ever Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) Forum at the FFA Conference Centre in Honiara this week.

Over three days, 9 – 11 April, the forum facilitated discussions among over 60 leaders and representatives from FFA and SPC Members, civil societies organisation, the private sector, and development partners to deliberate on gender disparities and promote inclusivity.

Opening addresses on Tuesday were delivered by Niue Minister of Natural Resources Hon. Mona Ainu’u, Cook Islands Hon. Minister Vainetutai Rose Toki-Brown, FFA Director General Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen and SPC Principal Strategic Lead – Pacific Women and Girls Mereseini Rakuita.

FFA Director General Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen, right, leading the arrival of guests at the opening of the GESI Fisheries Forum on Tuesday. Photo: SPC-PEUMP/Josaia Nanuqa

Hon. Ainu’u:

“As I’ve said, women are hard workers. We are all hard workers. It’s in our genes. We need to continue to encourage more participation, not because we want to compete with men. When we co-create, we can achieve many greater results. When we work together, we grow stronger and smarter.”

Hon. Toki-Brown:

“We know there are different cultural aspect of each Pacific countries with the ocean has been there from our forefathers to today. Today, we stand united to address challenges amongst women in the fisheries sector. We acknowledge the need to rectify gaps in fisheries and ensure the equitable participation and decision-making. Moreover, we are committed to empowering small-scale fish entrepreneurs, particularly women by removing barriers to market access and providing them the necessary. Through open dialogue we can aim to create a way of equitable and sustainable for all.”

Dr Tupou-Roosen:

“This forum provides a platform for candid discussions, knowledge sharing, and collaborative problem-solving. We will delve into the challenges hindering the quantification of women’s roles, empower small-scale fish entrepreneurs and communities, and explore pathways to enhance inclusive participation in fisheries management and development.”

Ms Rakuita:

“We are one Pacific people sharing one ocean that connects us. Connecting our dreams. Connecting our destinies. Our challenges are the same. Our aspirations are shared ones. The rich tapestry of cultures and traditions that clothe us and the strength and resilience of Pacific people provide us with a unique pathway to unlocking sustainable economies within the Blue Pacific Continent.”

The forum aims to spark meaningful conversations about diverse historic challenges such as recognition, increase in roles for women and socio-economic contribution of women to fisheries that have historically stalled the recognition and quantification of women’s roles and socio-economic contributions in fisheries.

The forum included plenary sessions, breakout discussions, and interactive panels to discuss pressing issues such as data gaps in women’s contributions, market development equity, and inclusive governance structures.

One of the forum’s core objectives is to enhance the participation of all stakeholders, especially women and marginalized groups, in fisheries management and development processes. This includes developing supportive environments where these groups can effectively participate in decision-making.

FFA and SPC are committed to transforming these discussions into actionable initiatives that support the equitable growth of the Pacific fisheries sector.

The GESI Forum is supported by the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Pacific Women Lead Programme and the Pacific-European Union Marine Partnership (PEUMP) ProgrammePacific Fisheries Leadership Programme and with the financial support of the  EU-funded PEUMP Programme, the Pacific Women Lead, OFMP 3 Project, Pacific Fisheries Leadership Programme (MFAT).