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Kenya marks World Fisheries Day with calls for women inclusion

Omena is cleaned before drying at Dunga beach in Kisumu on September 19, 2021. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

Kenya on Sunday joined the rest of the world to mark World Fisheries Day with calls by civil society and fisherfolks for the inclusion of more women in the sector to enhance gender equality.

Community Action for Nature Conservation (Canco), a public interest environmental civil society organisation through its Marine Fisheries Resource Program Manager, Richard Bemaronda, said the fisheries sub-sector plays an important role in Kenya's economy.

Women, Bemaronda states, play an important role in small-scale fisheries with nearly half of those working in small-scale fisheries value chain being women.

''However, the role of women in fisheries generally has continued to be undervalued and remains less visible particularly in governance, management, and leadership.

"Gender inequalities and discriminatory barriers and practices attributed to traditional culture, weak polities and laws prevent women from realising their full potential in the fisheries sector,'' Bemaronda said.

The event was attended by Agriculture CAS Lawrence Omuhaka at the Kilifi Bofa beach landing site under the theme 'Stop Human  Rights Violation at Sea'.

Bemaronda said that despite the gender inequalities in the sector, the government was encouraging women to venture into fishing.

In a recent address during the launch of the Kenya chapter of Generation Equality Forum that was held virtually, President Uhuru Kenyatta stated that the country has put in place a robust policy to achieve gender equality.

Bemaronda said that CANCO has since 2017 supported coast women and men in a small-scale fisheries development programme.

Omuhaka commended Kilifi county for its record in developing the fisheries sector.

Present were Kilifi County Commissioner Kutswa Olaka and Kilifi county Agriculture executive Lusiana Sanzua.

The CAS acknowledged that challenges such as inadequate gear, harassment by security agents, and lack of proper marketing for their catch will be addressed.

He said they are aware of constant harassment and arrests particularly in the waters of Lake Victoria where Kenya borders Uganda.

To secure Kenyan fisheries potential both at the Coast and inland water bodies, Omuhaka said the government deemed it fit to establish the Kenya Coast Guard Service (KCGS) that has been conducting patrols and arresting illegal fishermen (foreign and local).

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