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International Women's Day 2021

International Women’s Day: Choose to Challenge

At this critical time for our planet, recognising the role women play in protecting the environment has never been more important. Around the world, women and girls are disproportionately impacted by the climate crisis. They are also leading efforts to halt its effects on people and nature. 

In small-scale fisheries, where women make up nearly half of the global workforce, their work generates nearly $5.6 billion each year. Within their communities, fisherwomen provide food and income, promote sustainability and are the driving force in many households. Yet they continue to be overlooked.

As global policymakers prepare for big decisions around biodiversity, climate and marine protection this year at CBD15 and COP26, it is vital that the voices of women are heard, especially those fighting for environmental and social justice. Not only will this improve the experiences of women and girls facing the impacts of climate breakdown, but it will also create a more inclusive and impactful global environmental movement that protects all of our futures.

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #ChooseToChallenge, “a challenged world is an alerted world. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world”. 

In this special edition of Hooked, we celebrate the women in fisheries and marine conservation who are challenging the barriers to gender equality in their communities.

"Empowering a woman empowers a whole community.”

Mwanatumu Kadau, Beach Management Unit Chair, Vanga, Kenya

Choose to challenge: cultural norms

Meet Mima, Timor-Leste’s first female Divemaster. After qualifying as a SCUBA diver through her work with Blue Ventures, Mima went on to become a science assistant, collecting important data on the state of marine habitats and is now a community liaison officer, sharing her knowledge and inspiring others to get involved with locally led marine conservation.

“When women are included, it empowers and motivates them to continue working in science and know they are valued, and that their ideas are as important as those of men”

Darling Ortega, Operations Officer, Blue Ventures, Belize

Choose to challenge: economic instability

In Madagascar, during high tides and neap tides, women are unable to fish, as traditionally they fish by gleaning on foot during the low tide. This means that they are only able to earn an income from fishing for around half of each month. As the fisheries decline, it’s becoming harder for women to make a living from fishing. Community-led fisheries management is helping fisherwomen improve their catches and save for the future.

“I will preach these measures door to door, speak to my fellow women, shout together to initiate the closure and stop illegal fishing practices here. In five years’ time I will buy fish here and will be respected.”

Amina Mohamed Nanga, BMU leader, Lihimalyao Kaskazini, Kilwa District, Tanzania

What we're reading

“Women should be able to thrive. Because out there, there are a lot of women who share the same vision and dream, we just haven’t met them all yet. Women inspire each other.”

Nurain Lapolo, Director of Japesda, Indonesia

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