Hearing, counting and empowering women: GAF7 conference showcases gender equality progress and challenges

These were the key themes that emerged from ‘Expanding the Horizons’ , the FISH-sponsored 7th Gender in Aquaculture and Fisheries conference (GAF7) in Bangkok on 18-21 October 2018. The conference brought together around 150 experts, researchers and practitioners to discuss strategies to enhance gender inclusiveness and equality.

“The seafood industry doesn’t work if there are no women, just like it doesn’t work if there’s no fish. The world needs seafood to feed, and the industry needs women to make it happen,” said Dr. Darian McBain, Global Director for Sustainable Development, Thai Union, in her keynote address. This set a vibrant yet serious mood for the conference organized by the Gender in Aquaculture and Fisheries Section of the Asian Fisheries Society, the Asian Institute of Technology and the Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacific .

Over the four days, delegates heard 95 presentations and participated in nine special workshops. The conference was organized around the themes of gender assessments, gender-disaggregated statistics, the seafood industry, governance, climate change, the sustainable development goals, research methods and learning exchanges.

The broad range of topics reflects progress among the delegates says Dr. Holly Hapke, a member of the organizing committee who has been involved with the GAF network and conference since 2008. “There’s been a movement toward more advanced gender analysis, evidenced by research into diverse areas such as the struggles of migrant women and women’s position in value chains,” said Dr. Hapke, who is the Research Development Director at the University of California, Irvine.

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