International Women's Day 2020


This Sunday 8th March we join the global celebration of women’s achievements around the world and pledge our commitment to taking action for equality.

This year the theme is #EachForEqual, emphasising the importance of an equal and enabled world. Enabling is something that is close to our hearts at Blue Ventures; we support coastal communities to rebuild their fisheries, expanding their livelihoods and income opportunities and empowering them to plan for the future.

Women make up nearly half of small-scale fishers around the coastal tropics and are present throughout the value chain, yet their contributions remain poorly recognised. International Women’s Day provides another opportunity for us to focus on their vital contributions and amplify their stories.

In doing this, we are reminded of the fundamental, ongoing need to champion the rights of women throughout our marine conservation mission, whether that is their right to earn, their right to be heard or their right to choose.

#EachForEqual reminds us that gender equality transcends oceans, borders and cultures, but to achieve an equal and enabled world, we must be committed to understanding local contexts and responding to the needs of communities.

For Blue Ventures, this means continuing to listen to the women and men that we work with, promoting gender equality in a locally led and multifaceted way.

Learn more about our approach to gender equality

Women's voices

Everyday, our teams across the world witness the knowledge, perseverance and vigour of women in the field. Whether working as a marine conservation expert in Indonesia, a Divemaster in Timor-Leste or a crab fisher in Madagascar, we’re passionate that these voices need to be heard.

Mursiati (Nusi)
Team member
FORKANI, Indonesia

“God created us all as humans. Never say that a woman cannot do something because she is a woman. Women can do anything they are passionate about, just the same as men.”

Community member of the PHE Network
Andranolava, Morondava, Madagascar

“We can’t be healthy if we don’t have enough food. There are no longer enough crabs. Giving birth all of the time is also difficult. The quantity of crabs must be greater than or equal to the number of mouths to feed.”

First ever female Timorese Divemaster 
Blue Ventures, Timor-Leste

“When I first got the diving scholarship with Blue Ventures, both the community and my family thought I couldn’t do it because I am a woman. They said I wouldn’t finish my training, wouldn’t get pregnant in the future and that I would get sick and maybe die. However, although I knew it would be hard, I said ‘I’m not afraid, I can do this’.”

Head of Local Development
Moheli National Park, Comoros

“The woman, in her role as an educator in the family, already contributes to ensure the protection of natural resources for the future generations. She shares her knowledge about the environment with her children.”

Community member of the PHE Network
Andranolava, Morondava, Madagascar

“I started using contraception after my second child, following four miscarriages. I decided to use it to create a little space in my life. It’s better when you have more freedom. When children are raised well, you can go to the fields and work. I feel good. I am healthy.”

Fisheries Partner Support Technician
Blue Ventures, Kenya

“I want to acknowledge and celebrate the women (my friends and my teachers) in the village for their resilience, drive, action and leadership in conservation. With local women in my team I am confident that the wellbeing of the larger community will be a priority.”

Site Manager
Perkumpulan YAPEKA, Indonesia

“Women have a long-term vision because traditional female roles involve managing the household and looking after the family, meaning that we have excellent planning skills. We are more aware of our surroundings and can give valuable insights and a different perspective on environmental issues.”

Education and Outreach Officer
Blue Ventures, Belize

“Women should be the light for other women that are struggling. Even if we are underappreciated, we should stand up for what we know is right. We should always remember that we are heard, that we are not alone and that help is there. We can strive for a better future, together.”

Women in fisheries

Around the world, women fishers in small-scale fisheries catch nearly 3 million tonnes of fish and seafood every year. This contributes to the global seafood market, as well as feeding the mouths of the families and communities which these women support. Women’s role in fisheries must be celebrated every day, but on International Women’s Day we’re reminded to not overlook or undervalue women’s contributions. 

Meet Madame Kokoly, one of the women who makes up half of the small-scale fishers around the world and who depends on the ocean’s shrinking harvest to survive. A proud and industrious woman illustrates the struggle of millions of women around the coastal tropics who are living with climate breakdown.

We are committed to supporting partners in their marine conservation efforts. Here’s how some of our partners are engaging women in fisheries:

MIHARI’s Fisher Women Leadership Programme
The MIHARI Network, based in Madagascar brings together more than 200 community organisations to manage their fisheries through locally managed marine areas (LMMAs). The network is poised to launch a Fisher Women Leadership Programme aiming to increase the role of women in fisheries.Over two years, 25 women will share their knowledge and experiences to develop a strategy helping other women to overcome barriers to managing their fisheries.

Women in Fisheries blog series
Last year on International Women’s Day, we launched the Women in Fisheries blog series, which profiles some of the many inspirational women working on fisheries management and marine conservation in Indonesia. Since the launch, six blogs about six inspiring women have been published. We’re proud to have highlighted the essential work being carried out by our partner organisations in Indonesia, and especially proud to place the women leading and working within these organisations in the spotlight.

Women's health

As an organisation that is always willing to listen and learn, our work in marine conservation highlighted a key barrier to women’s participation: poor health.

Globally, health inequality is nowhere more extreme than in women’s health. For example, in Madagascar the average national maternal mortality is around 40 times higher than in the UK. When you factor in the increased mortality that women in rural communities face, the lifetime risk of dying in childbirth is several hundred times higher.

Poor health, especially poor reproductive health, limits women’s ability to engage in a livelihood, and their capacity to engage with society in general. Our community health programme in Madagascar, Safidy (which means ‘choice’), enables women to make their own reproductive choices, supporting them along their journey to empowerment and equality.

We found that women using our community health services were earning twice as much as those who weren’t. They also demonstrated having longer term priorities and a vision for the future.

This suggests that improving women’s health is one of the fundamental building blocks of women’s empowerment, and in creating a more equal world.

More stories

Thank you to all of the women who have contributed their words, photos and stories to this page. Today we celebrate your achievements and promise to work together towards an enabled and equal world.

Share This