Senegal: role of women in a model of community management of fish resources and marine environments

Senegal: role of women in a model of community management of fish resources and marine environments

Involving women in fisheries and coastal resource management

During the last twenty years pressure on marine resources in Senegal has increased so significantly that fish have become scarce. Despite their involvement in the use of coastal and marine resources around the world, many women face barriers to participating fully in the planning and management of those resources. This short case study highlights the attempt to fully involve women in fisheries and coastal resource management in Cayar, Senegal.

The author highlights that barriers to women’s participation can be institutional, educational, or cultural in nature, and can profoundly influence decision making that affects the welfare of marine resources and coastal communities. Fortunately, the process of establishing a marine protected area (MPA) in Cayar recognises gender and the participation of women in development processes as central for sustainable development. Recommendations include:

  • use the knowledge of women about biodiversity, as they interact differently with the marine environment than men (e.g. their role in post-harvest activities such as gutting fish, may give them greater knowledge about fish reproductive seasons)
  • ensure equitable participation in all activities, including training, of both stakeholders and staff (recognising that participation should never be mandatory).This may mean scheduling meetings that suit women (e.g. not at traditional male meeting places)
  • use participatory methods, such as single sex focus groups and separate meetings with men and women
  • monitor how women and men participate in and benefit from coastal resource management.
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