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Photos: iStock and Visit Åland, Flatlight Films

Recommendations to boost gender equality

One of the tasks demanded by our steering group was to increase the awareness of business leaders and policymakers, to expand their knowledge of the value women bring to the maritime sector and blue economy, and to encourage them to consider those factors each time they develop a new project or a policy. We would like to encourage policy-makers and industry leaders alike to be attentive and active in working towards increased gender equality at all levels and to the values that women bring to the sector.
The Nordic cooperation should follow up on Norwegian measures and actions that contribute to the recruitment of more women as fishers and fish boat owners and encourage female fishers to remain longer in the profession. The Nordic cooperation could support greater knowledge about women‘s opportunities in the fishing industry by disseminating findings and providing the foundations for a comparative statistical database. It should also include incentives to close the gendered pay gap.
Each of the countries involved in Nordic cooperation with autonomous regions should mobilise measures that strengthen knowledge about the importance of women in the sector and actions aimed at changing attitudes to abilities of women in the sector. Campaigns are needed against the mindset that allows sexual harassment and gender-discriminatory behaviour in the sector. There is every indication that measures are needed relating to cultural communication and attitude-building work within the fisheries and seafood sector.
  1. There are persistent gaps in data availability on gender representation in the sector, as well as a lack of common data protocols and primary data collection. Improvement of gender-disaggregated data in fisheries and aquaculture in the Nordic Region should allow for examination of the multifaceted nature of women‘s engagement in the traditionally male-dominated sector of fisheries and aquaculture and more broadly in the blue economy. It is critical to account for the full extent of women‘s contribution therein, as well as for new and emerging professions. It is also important to ensure that management of maritime resources is sustainable and equitable. There may be a need to mobilise actions to boost primary data collection according to a multi-level governance approach that also engages supranational institutions like FAO, ILO and Nordic institutions and organisations.
  2. Women’s enrolment in courses related to the maritime sector is reflected only to a minimal degree on the gender-segregated labour market but that may be about to change. Decision-makers should be aware that the seeds of future gender equality are sowed within the educational system. Nordic governments need to encourage women that this is a feasible field of work, with measures taken to secure and support gender-equal actions both in the educational system, as well as in the industry. Promoting good role models is one way but there are also several other ways to increase the attractiveness of this sector; the Nordic policy on mitigating the gender-segregated labour market in the field of skilled trades and critical labour groups with a vocational training background should also extend to professions focusing on marine occupations.
  3. Measures need to be developed to mitigate and counteract the risk of sexual harassment and negative stereotypes of women working in the maritime sector. While research in this field is growing, there is a general need for future research prioritizing substantial qualitative fieldwork. Furthermore, there is a need to address underlying causes of workplace bullying and harassment and to ensure decent employment and working conditions at sea.
  4. More research is needed on women as leaders within fisheries and aquaculture and the maritime sector. While there are strong examples of power of agency, we lack data on women’s power to set the agenda in the maritime sector through diverse leadership roles. Moreover, when it comes to women’s access to decision-making on allocation of licences, quotas and in general holding financial power at the executive level, we would like to see more systematic research evidence.
  5. It is important to look more broadly at the engagement of women, including at executive level and as drivers and entrepreneurs in the industry and within the broader blue economy.