Webinar on ‘Women as catalyst for change’ held

New Delhi : Women constitute nearly half of the employed fisheries’ workforce globally, with Indian fisherwomen population accounting to about 44% of the total fisher popultaion. Women engage in various types of fish harvesting activities, small-scale near-by shore fishing activities and seaweed cultivation, fish cleaning, drying, salting and industrial processing. However fisheries, traditionally, has been a male-dominated sector where women’s contributions go unrecognised and their income are highly undervalued. Therefore, empowerment and upliftment of 1.24 crore women workforce engaged in fisheries activities is expected to hugely boost sectoral growth.

Keeping in view the above critical aspects, Department of Fisheries (MoFAHD) organised a webinar ‘Women as catalyst for change’ that brought forth discussion on the need to narrow the gender gap in the fisheries sector. The webinar was chaired by Dr. (Smt.) Suvarna Chandrappagari, IFS, Chief Executive (CE), National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB), Hyderabad and was graced by the presence of Dr. V. Krippa, Member Secretary, Coastal Aquaculture Authority (CAA), esteemed panellists Ms. Veenu Jaichand, Partner – Skill Development & Entrprnuership, Ernst & Young, Dr. Sriparna Baruha, Head, Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship (IIIE), Assam and Dr. S. Glory Swarupa, Director General, National Institute for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Hyderabad.

The event started with the Welcome address by Joint Secretary (Inland Fisheries), Dept of Fisheries. In his address JS (IF) highlighted the current scenario in the sector and requested the guest panlelists to share methodologies, ideas and initiatives that can encourage women to join the mainstream work in the fisheries sector. To set the context for the webinar, Dr V Krippa highlighted on-ground issues faced by  women across the fisheries value chain and posed the question if the endeavours and initiatives being currently taken up are sufficient to empower women. Through her own experience during visits to States/UTs, Chairperson, Dr Suvarna highlighted issues where drudgery, hardship and gender biasness are prominently faced by women daily. NFDB’s role as an instrumental agency in training and capacitating women in the fisheries sector was also highlighted.

Further the guest panelists put forth their views on different solutions and opportunities that can resolve and bridge the gender gaps. Ms Jaichand emphasised on the need to scale up skilling and capacity building of women where state governments/UT administrations play a major role by coming forward and capacitating women. She also urged that the stakeholders should ensure that appropriate job roles are created to match the appropriate skill sets.

Dr. S Baruha shared the success story of women led cluster in the handloom industry in the North East Region where ‘social mobilisation’ and ‘collaboration amongst value chain stakeholders’ played a key role. It was recommended that the cluster-approach thus plays a critical role in restricting migration of youth from rural to urban areas to ensure sustainability.

Dr. G Swarupa highlighted the need of customised strategies for encouraging women to take up entrepreneurial opportunities through policy reforms, granting access to credit, loans and decision making. The outcome of creating a supportive ecosystem is expected to reduce vulnerability and enhance credibility and confidence amongst women.

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