Women play a significant role in different aspects of fisheries, aquaculture and fishery post-harvesting activities, particularly fish processing and marketing but remain invisible and less reprehensive in the sector.
“Their roles are often under-documented by national statistics and databases, both qualitative and quantitative information,” a joint UN Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) report showed.
According to the report on “Gender Analysis of Post-harvest Fisheries of Cambodia” found that some 74 per cent of post harvest micro and small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are owned by women.
Women dominated the processing segment, accounting for 54 per cent of fermented products, such as prahok and paork, 67 per cent of marinated fish and fish ball products, and 75 per cent of fish sauce production and half of dried shrimp production.
Women manage most of the tasks required specific skills such as purchasing raw material, fish selection, sorting, cleaning, salting, fermenting and smoking.
However, despite the apparent contribution by women at all stages of supply chain and their involvement in fish selling and processing, women’s roles tend to be conceptualised as “an extension of domestic work”, and thus undervalued in economic terms.
The 68-page report, funded by the EU, is based on a project developed by UNIDO’s Cambodia Programme for Sustainable and Inclusive Growth in the Fisheries Sector: Capture component (CaPFish-Capture).
Due to gender-based constraints in terms of mobility, time availability, access to education and capacity building, business opportunities are limited for women.
“Despite their extensive labour commitments to post-harvest fishery work, women remain bound to and are mainly responsible for unpaid home-care work, which limits their agency and stretches their available time for economic-focused work,” it said.
Owing to that, more support in terms of technical and financial is needed to empower women in post-harvest fisheries sector including facility upgrades, technology advancements, as well as skills and knowledge enhancements.
Poum Sotha, director-general of MAFF’s Fisheries Administration, said it is important that development partners and implementers pay more attention to this issue.
“[Because] women play significant roles ranging from fishing up to marketing activities, and particularly in post-harvest fisheries,” he added.
Meanwhile, Dr Shetty Seetharama Thombathu, chief technical advisor of CaPFish-Post-harvest Fisheries Development, said Cambodian women have significantly contributed to food safety, nutrition and poverty reduction.
She added that the promotion of gender equality and women empowerment would support Cambodia in achieving sustainable and inclusive fisheries development.