Dr. Milika Sobey, Chairperson of the Women in Fisheries Network – Fiji (WiFN-Fiji) attended a valuable Food & Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) workshop held in Rome, November, 2016. Here is her report-

In early October, I was invited by FAO to an “expert workshop on gender-equitable small-scale fisheries” in the context of the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (SSF Guidelines) which were endorsed in 2014 by the 31st Session of the FAO Committee on Fisheries (COFI).

The guidelines promote a human rights based approach and include a specific chapter on gender equality. A number of events and consultations held during the development of the SSF Guidelines, as well as others held since their endorsement in June 2014 have emphasized the need for more specific guidance on how to  practically apply the SSF Guidelines in relation to gender issues.

The workshop convened a broad group of small-scale fisheries and gender experts from different backgrounds and with relevant expertise, including from Member States, UN agencies, CSOs, NGOs, and academia.  It was held at FAO headquarters in Rome from 28th-30th November 2016.

The purpose of the workshop was to present and discuss a draft implementation guide on how to practically apply the SSF Guidelines in relation to gender issues aimed at supporting:

(i) Awareness raising, advocacy and capacity development activities on the application of the relevant principles of the SSF Guidelines, as well as

(ii) The development and implementation of gender-sensitive sectoral and cross-sectoral policy frameworks and investment plans and programs.

The implementation guide is targeting policy makers/public institutions and CSOs/fishing community organizations and was prepared by the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF).

The workshop programme included both plenary presentations and discussions, and working group sessions.  The WiFN-Fiji rep was part of the group that reviewed Chapters 6 and 11 of the Implementation Guide which were on Gender in the context of social development, employment and decent work and Gender in the context of information, research and communication respectively.  The WiFN-Fiji rep was able to provide updated information on Case Study 10 in Chapter 6 highlighting the workers at the PAFCO cannery in Levuka as the information in the draft implementation guide was very outdated.

The workshop provided a wonderful opportunity for WiFN-Fiji to be represented at an international meeting and to network with other agencies involved in gender-related fisheries issues.