International Women's Day 2017 FFA statement: FFA to progress new Gender Equity Framework in 2017

 08 Mar 2017, FFA HQ SOLOMON ISLANDS – The 8th of March marks International Women’s Day. This year the United Nation’s has chosen the theme “Women’s Economic Empowerment in the Changing World of Work.”  This draw’s attention to residual issues such as the gender pay gap, unpaid care work, the challenges for women in the informal economy and the opportunities created by new technologies. 
These are all issues highly relevant to the work of the Forum Fisheries Agency and its members within the offshore tuna sector across the Pacific Islands region. .
Traditionally the Pacific Islands tuna fishery has had a reputation as a male-dominated sector on the oceans and at the executive levels, while women dominate the ranks of onshore cannery operations. Thankfully these stereotypes are rapidly breaking down. More and more women at all levels of industry and government are bringing their skills and expertise to bear. 
Increasingly we see women filling key roles such as senior government and industry executives, fisheries managers, surveillance officers, fisheries observers, port operators and fork-lift drivers, together with the thousands of female workers who keep our processing plants operational. Gender parity in fisheries will also involve our continued efforts to promote safe and supportive workplaces for all.
There is a great deal more we can do. For example I am confident also that the advent of new technologies such as e-monitoring will create further new and exciting opportunities for women. However, many formal and informal barriers, residual attitudes and the obligations of family responsibilities continue to fall unequally on women’s’ shoulders. 
In July 2016, fisheries ministers endorsed unanimously the FFA’s Gender Equity Framework to underpin our work in this key area. Since that time we have secured funding from the Government of Sweden to begin the design and planning stages of a broad-based gender program for the Agency, industry and members. 
Our work in advancing gender issues will be a fully participatory process. We will shortly bring together member country representatives and regional experts, including from our partner agencies, to inform this process. The voice of women must be the foundation of this work.  
I congratulate and acknowledge the untiring, professional and critical role that women play in the offshore tuna sector.-ENDS