Finalist, Seafood Champion Awards for Vision
The International Association for Women in the Seafood Industry (WSI) is a non-profit association created in 2016 by seafood professionals and gender specialists. WSI was created to highlight the contribution of women to the seafood industry, and to raise awareness of gender issues and to promote greater diversity and inclusiveness. The board of WSI endowed with international experience includes one marine scientist, one seafood market analyst and two gender issues specialists. It is assisted by a 6 member Advisory Committee including renown fisheries and aquaculture and gender issues specialists. WSI is based in Paris, France and its scope of action in global. In March 2018 they will launch a world video competition on women in the seafood industry.
WSI is a new organization that provides a unique contribution to the seafood industry. Today, the seafood sustainability movement is widely recognized, but the predominant focus remains on the environmental aspects, which in many cases involves activities on the water, which generally pertains to men. Increasingly, we are seeing the social dimension of sustainability being given more air time (thankfully!). Progress is being made with traceability/transparency and with labour standards, but mostly this is a male story. The area that has received the least attention concerns gender equity in seafood supply chains. Marie-Christine self-started WSI to draw much-needed attention to the contribution of women to the seafood industry, to raise awareness of gender issues and to promote professional equality between men and women in the seafood industry.
How well does this nominee and his or her work demonstrate the qualities of the category?
WSI is committed to advancing gender equity in seafood supply chains. It emerged from growing recognition that women’s participation in the global seafood industry is significant but often undervalued by private stakeholders and overlooked by public policies. Globally, one in every two seafood workers is a woman. However, very few of these women work in leadership positions and they are over-represented in the lowest paid, lowest valued positions. Through the vision of an equitable seafood industry where women’s roles are recognised and valued as a critical component of the sustainable seafood movement, WSI is giving voice to an issue that many have not been able to articulate to date to make sure it gets the recognition it deserves. WSI’s Board has extensive experience with private business and social organizations and with an Advisory Committee comprising seafood professionals and gender specialists, WSI is in a strong position to deliver its vision.
In what ways has this nominee positively affected, or mitigated negative impacts of, the seafood industry?
While a new organization, WSI has hit the ground running. In its first year, it held the first ever session dedicated to women in seafood at the World Seafood Congress 2017; had a stand at the 12th Icelandic Fisheries Exhibition in Reykjavik in Iceland; created a scholarship exchange for three junior female seafood professionals from the University of Vigo, Spain; and conducted a global survey (700 responses worldwide) to help understand the situation and the perception that men and women have around gender in the seafood Industry. Alongside an active online social media presence (330 followers on twitter 9 months after the start underscores the interest in the subject), WSI has been instrumental in getting a tricky conversation started.
In what way do you feel this nominee’s story could inspire others and communicate successes achieved in sustainable seafood?
Tackling gender equity in the seafood industry is a disruptive process and while for many companies, uprooting gender inequities across the value chain is both good for society and good for business, only a fraction are addressing gender-based issues and opportunities. It is inspirational to see how a strong vision for an equitable seafood industry has already raised global awareness and can motivate diverse seafood industry stakeholders to acknowledge that gender equity has moved from a ‘nice to have’ to a ‘must have’ for seafood sustainability.
How would the work serve as a replicable model for others who want to have a similar impact?
Through WSI’s leadership, we have a platform to elevate the profile of organizations that are making progress with gender equity. Today the case for building environmentally sustainable businesses is undeniable, and there is a strong global movement of corporations that have made public commitments to environmental stewardship. Companies have come to understand the business risks of ignoring their impact on the environment, as well as the benefits of being a responsible environmental steward. Yet few companies have made a similar shift when it comes to women’s empowerment and increased gender equality. Through their work, WSI serves to support and elevate the activities of others in the seafood industry who are wishing to fully respond to calls for a holistic approach to sustainability.