Through the Fisheries Governance Project (FishGov 2), under funding from the European Union, AU-IBAR and AUDA-NEPAD are supporting ten countries to establish and formalize their national women’s chapters of the African Women Fish Processors and Traders Network (AWFISHNET).
The ten countries comprise Gabon, Chad, Zambia, South Africa, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Egypt, Tunisia, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. The first national launch is being held in Libreville, Gabon, from 27th – 29th September 2021. The meeting, which started yesterday was officially opened by Mr. Philippe Ouedraogo, on behalf of AU-IBAR’s Acting Director, Dr. Nick Nwankpa. In his opening remarks, Mr. Ouedraogo noted that:
‘’Women play a significant role in the post-catch activities of the fisheries and aquaculture value chain, with 92% employed in the post-harvest activities (processing mainly). The role of women in fisheries and aquaculture is crucial to food security in ensuring the distribution and availability of fish supplies to households. Women make a significant contribution to food security, livelihoods and household incomes in the sector however, their contributions are often not sufficiently recognized or adequately considered.’’
The meeting in Gabon was officially opened by Mme Michel Schummer Agnandji, the Director of the General Directorate of Fisheries and Aquaculture (DGPA) Representing the Minister of Fisheries. Other participants of the launch include representatives of the Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Food Security; Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries, and Food security; AWFISHNET members and executive; ECCAS; COREP, and development and technical partners.
Each AWFISHNET national chapter launch will be held under the following objectives:
(i) Form a national Chapter of AWFISHNET, comprising women active in fish farming, fish processors, and traders.
(ii) Deliberate and adopt a constitution and rules of Procedure for the proposed national women network that is in line with the continental AWFISHNET guidelines.
(iii) Vote in the network’s inaugural executive office bearers
(iv) Collectively identify critical tasks and action plans for the legal operationalization of the proposed network.
Several outputs are expected from the launch of the national chapters. Firstly, it is expected that countries will establish national networks of women fish processors, grower and traders; adopt the draft Constitution and Rules of Procedure for the proposed network; draft and adopt the inaugural two year action plan to operationalize the network; and establish inaugural executive committees.
AWFISHNET’s general objective is to improve the welfare, working conditions, and income for women in fisheries and especially in the post-harvest sector within the member states of the African Union. Specifically, the network seeks to provide a platform for women fish processors and traders to:
i. Facilitate collaboration and cooperation between women fish processors and trader associations in the continent;
ii. Share best practices, experiences, technologies and learning together;
iii. Advocate for issues affecting their activities and facilitate enabling policy environment to enhance their role in the fisheries sector in the continent;
iv. Build and strengthen the capacities of its members to effectively implement the continental policies in Africa at all local, national, regional and continental levels;
v. Attract increased public and private investment in the fish post-harvest sector (fish processing and trading)
vi. Strengthen their role as SME and expand their market and marketing opportunities, resulting in improved access to market for women’s products and equitable participation in intra-regional African fish trade.
AWFISHNET is endorsed by the Specialized Technical Committee meeting of Ministers responsible for Agriculture, Rural Development, Water and Environment (STC-ARDWE) in 2019 and therefore recognized by the highest AU policy organ. The African Fisheries Reform Mechanism (AFRM) provides a mechanism in which constituent women fish processors and traders from the African Union Member States, are fully represented and enable to participate and contribute at national, regional and continental decision-making processes through their respective National Networks of AWFISHNET.
View video launch in Gabon: https://fb.watch/8hPLxt8RnD/