NFD supports FFA gender equality campaign for fisheries

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Honiara –The biggest fishing company in Solomon Islands, National Fisheries Development (NFD), is determined to promote gender equality in the local fishing industry, despite the challenges faced by women engaging in fisheries work.

NFD’s Managing Director, Mr Frank Wickham, gave the company’s support to the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) when the agency announced the Gender Equity and Social Inclusion (GESI) initiative, a plan to focus on gender equality and social inclusion within the region’s tuna fisheries sector.

In September, FFA Director-General Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen announced that the agency had initiated a gender policy in 2016, but would like to see improvements in promoting more women in the Pacific tuna fisheries. This was clearly integrated in the FFA’s 2020 five-year strategic plan.

This latest move by the Pacific’s biggest fishing organisation has received support from the NFD and its sister company SolTuna – both leaders in women’s employment rates in the Solomon Islands fishing industry.

“It’s a great move for us in the pacific region in recognising gender equality by promoting equal opportunity for men and women working in the fisheries sector. From catching fish through to canning and exporting of fish products, it’s good that we find possible ways to improve certain conditions to see more women working alongside men in the regional fishing industry,” Mr Wickham said.

NFD promoting gender equality at work

According to Mr Wickham, the NFD is continuing to promote the recruitment of more women for positions that have normally been afforded to men.

The Managing Director of the National Fisheries Development (NFD) in Solomon Islands, Mr Frank Wickham. Photo: PITIA.

“At the moment, we now have female managers and heads of departments, and we have also tried to identify some other jobs that were normally occupied by men, such as security guards. We have also recruited female crews to work on our fishing vessels,” he said.

However, coming from a cultural background involving so much respect for both men and women in a shared environment at work, it is a real challenge for the female workers when it comes to fisheries work in Solomon Islands.

“It’s challenging in the sense that it is a small area inside the vessels that’s being shared with male colleagues. But we are still monitoring the approach and will see how things turn out in the future. We are also looking to recruit more women in trade work like carpentry or plumbing, and we will look into other areas as well. We have also recruited more young women who are interested in working on-board our fishing vessels, by sending some to work in the engine room and deckhand positions.”

Mr Wickham said some of them are coping well with the challenges faced at sea while others have decided to quit working on the vessels. However, NFD will be looking to recruit more women to work on the vessels, starting from smaller vessels and then moving on to the bigger ships.

With the understanding that fishing is a male dominated industry, Mr Wickham thinks it will take some time for their female staff to be familiar with the challenges that are attached to the job.

“There is also a need to caution male workers to support and respect their female colleagues when they are out working in the seas. Before being engaged in the job, women too must be taught about the challenges that they will be facing when working in the fishing vessels,” Mr Wickham stated.

FFA’s gender equality policy

It is common knowledge that in the Pacific, there are more women working in the canneries. However, one of the key goals of FFA’s Gender Equity and Social Inclusion (GESI) initiative is to give women and minority groups a broader range of roles in the sector – not just in canneries alone.

According to the FFA’s HR Division, they are taking a three-pronged approach to advocate for these changes.

“First, we plan to collect more data, more regularly. Men and women in Pacific island countries engage in distinct and often complementary activities that are strongly influenced by the social, cultural and economic contexts in which they live. We need to collect a range of data more systematically and analyse it regularly to understand gaps and identify opportunities or barriers to progress,” a statement from the HR Division said.

“Secondly, we plan to deepen the analysis undertaken for meetings, workshops and trainings, and other engagements, to better incorporate a gender equity and social inclusion lens.”

FFA wants to strengthen the capacity of the fisheries sector and Pacific island governments to integrate gender equity and social inclusion into policies, processes and procedures.

“This includes reviewing job descriptions to make it possible for women and others from less represented groups to apply, posting job advertisements in accessible places, and better targeting recruitment for jobs across the value chain, including management,” the statement added.

FFA Director General Dr Tupou-Roosen (centre) with the two longest-serving female staff of the FFA, Solomon Islands nationals Mrs Susan Olisukulu (left) and Davinia Boso (right) in front of the FFA conference room named in their honour earlier this year. Photo: Ronald F. Toito’ona.

The future of the gender initiative

The planned activities for the next twelve months under FFA’s GESI initiative involve:

  • conducting a diversity pay audit across the fisheries sector in both the private and public domains, including within FFA
  • commissioning research to understand the impact of COVID-19 on women in Pacific offshore fisheries
  • coaching key employees on skills for analysing gender equality and social inclusion issues
  • convening a GESI forum, aimed at advocating for the advancement of women within the fisheries and aquaculture sectors
  • providing a platform for effective interaction and cooperation among academics, technicians, government and NGO experts involved in issues related to equality and inclusion in Pacific fisheries.

The FFA’s statement has also highlighted that the planned forum will involve a diverse set of people coming together to share, e-learn and ideally map out ways to work together in bridging the GESI gap in fisheries. The forum is planned for 2021.

FFA to increase focus on gender equality and social inclusion in Pacific fisheries: media release

Categories Media releases, NewsPosted on

HONIARA, 16 September 2020 – The Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) has announced an initiative to create more focus on gender equality and social inclusion within the region’s tuna fisheries sector.

Announcing the initiative as part of FFA’s new five-year Strategic Plan, the FFA Director-General, Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen, said while FFA has had gender-related policies in place since 2016, more must be done to ensure women and minority groups can fully participate in the tuna fisheries sector.

“We need to make every effort to understand the specific barriers faced by women and other marginalised demographic groups in the fisheries supply chain, so policies and practices are more intentionally inclusive,” Dr Tupou-Roosen said.

“What’s missing from our tuna fisheries work is regular gender and social inclusion analysis. Without this data, it remains difficult to understand the role and relations of women and minority groups within the broader fisheries supply chain.” 

Dr Tupou-Roosen noted that sustainable fisheries are vital for achieving food and nutrition security, alleviating poverty, enhancing economic growth and delivering social development. 

“Data that better quantifies the contributions of women, people with disabilities and other relevant demographic groups will provide a platform for more inclusive policies and decision-making processes. This initiative will enable FFA to influence transformative change in the Pacific region.”

In early September, a workshop on gender equality and social inclusion (GESI) was hosted at FFA which involved all employees. The “Walking the Talk” session was aimed at building a common understanding of gender equality and social inclusion within the context of FFA’s work. 

“The workshop was very valuable,” said Dr Tupou-Roosen. “It has helped all of us at FFA develop a deeper understanding of how discrimination or bias related to gender and other factors such as age, ethnicity, socio-economic background, religion and disability can prevent certain groups contributing to decision-making or accessing opportunities.”

FFA hopes to support a range of gender equality and social inclusion training and awareness workshops in future within its membership countries and the wider regional fisheries sector. The agency is also planning a gender forum in fisheries in 2021, to develop strategies for greater inclusion. 

–ENDS//

For more information contact Ronald F. Toito’ona, FFA Media,
ph: +677 7304715, ronald.toitoona@ffa.int

About Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA)

FFA assists its 17 member countries to sustainably manage fishery resources that fall within their 200-mile exclusive economic zones (EEZs). FFA provides expertise, technical assistance and other support to its members, who make decisions about their tuna resources and participate in regional decision-making on tuna management. Find out more here www.ffa.int.

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FFA recognises 40 years of service of employees

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Honiara, 19 July 2020 – STAFF of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) last week celebrated the achievements and service of two long-serving employees, who have spent 40 years working for the regional fisheries organisation based in Honiara.

Solomon Island nationals Davinia Boso, 67 and Susan Olisukulu, 61 both joined the FFA in July 1980 when it was being established.

Mrs Boso is from Patutiva in the famous Marovo Lagoon, Western province and Mrs Olisukulu is from Boe village, Choiseul province.

They started off together as typists when the FFA Headquarters was stationed in Lengakiki, West Honiara. They have worked under the leadership of nine Director-Generals and 14 Deputy Director Generals.

Now forty years with the regional fisheries organisation, Mrs Boso is the Office Support Services Supervisor while Mrs Olisukulu is a Human Resources Support Officer.

They said they were so happy and thankful to see the FFA transforming over the years into what it is today.

“So many things have unfolded over the years. But it is a joy to see how FFA has evolved and it has been a pleasure to work with so many staff and Directors,” Mrs Boso said.

“From the humble beginning using manual typewriters and duplicating machines, my work has been enhanced using computer/laptops and with the introduction of new information technologies. FFA has greatly developed and I am happy to see FFA grow for the last 40 years. God Bless FFA and the Region,” Mrs Olisukulu said.

FFA Director-General Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen thanked Mrs Boso and Mrs Olisukulu on behalf of the staff for their 40 years of hard work and commitment to FFA.

An emotional FFA Director-General, Dr manu Tupou-Roosen acknowledging the ladies for their 40 years of service to the regional fisheries organisation based in Honiara, Solomon Islands.

Dr Tupou-Roosen stated, “it is rare to find someone that has dedicated their life service to an organisation for 40 years.  We are deeply appreciative and so proud of our two special staff members Davinia and Susan. This is a significant achievement for them and an important milestone in FFA’s history.”

“To appropriately recognise their contribution to FFA, our Library Conference Room, usually referred to as the LCR, has been renamed in their honour as the Davinia Boso Susan Olisukulu Conference Room,” she added.

It was an emotional and happy occasion for both employees and the staff as they marked their 40 years of service to FFA, during a celebration on Friday, 17 July 2020.

For more information and photos contact Ronald F. Toito’ona, FFA Media, ph: +677 7304715, ronald.toitoona@ffa.int

About Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA)

FFA assists its 17-member countries to sustainably manage fishery resources that fall within their 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs). FFA provides expertise, technical assistance and other support to its members who make decisions about their tuna resources and participate in regional decision making on tuna management. 

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Women slowly gaining access to more jobs in tuna fisheries, but remain mostly in traditional roles

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Small changes are slowly resulting in opportunities for women to take up a wider range of jobs in the tuna fisheries.

However, researchers have found that most of the options for women remain limited along traditional gender lines.

The researchers assessed how the ways the value chain is governed in tuna fisheries affect the well-being of communities, which includes women’s participation in the economy. They studied two communities in Solomon Islands, Noro and Gizo, both in Western Province, and two communities in Indonesia.

In Solomon Islands, some women were doing well in jobs with greater responsibilities such as technical supervisors or managers in the SolTuna cannery at Noro, or had built up trading businesses and fleets of fishing vessels.

And, in 2019, three women started work as cadets on the National Fisheries Development fishing fleet. Until then, the agency employed only men on its fishing vessels.

Generally, however, few women work on tuna fishing vessels anywhere. In Solomon Islanders, they make up a large part of the workforce once that catch is landed, dominating work on processing lines in factories, and selling raw or processed fish in local markets. 

Female compliance officer and two longline fishing vessels Solomon Islands. Photo Francisco Blaha.
Controlling longline vessels in Solomon Islands … women are slowly becoming a presence across the tuna industry. Photo: Francisco Blaha.

The researchers described their study and findings in the most recent issue of the Women in Fisheries Bulletin, which is published by the Pacific Community.

They said some women were also found in technical, financial and managerial roles, but usually in lower-paid, less powerful positions than their male colleagues. This was the same for tuna that is exported and for tuna sold in local markets for local consumption.

The researchers said that the largest employment opportunities in the tuna fisheries, on fish-processing lines for women, and as general crew of fishing vessels for men, were poorly paid. Two-thirds of the workforce of SolTuna are women, but most of them are in the lowest-paid jobs with the least authority. 

The researchers said that the International Finance Corporation had worked with SolTuna since 2015 to improve opportunities for women, as well as their working conditions.

Women’s work in the tuna fisheries was made more difficult because they were expected to fit paid work around their obligations to care for families and homes, with strong social and cultural values shaping women’s and men’s views on where women could legitimately seek work.

Most women who sell tuna in the Gizo and Noro are involved in small, family-run businesses. (This was different to the situation in Indonesia, where the value chain is more complex and offers more opportunities for women to be involved in or run larger businesses.)

If women were going to take up paid work across the tuna industry in greater numbers, jobs needed to be flexible so women could also meet their extensive family responsibilities.

Laughing woman in orange cap and coverall clothing with paintbrush and box in factory Solomon Islands. Photo Francisco Blaha.
A Solomon Islander at work in tuna processing … women are concentrated in the low-paid jobs. Photo: Francisco Blaha.