Funmilola Agbebi, a Professor of Fisheries Economies and International Marine Policy, has called for the inclusion of women in the marine and blue economy.
Agbebi, of the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Olusegun Agagu University of Science and Technology (OAUSTECH), Okitipupa, Ondo State, made the call while delivering the fourth inaugural lecture of the university.
The lecture titled “Is it a Man’s World? – Interrogating the Blue Economy Through The Gender Lens” was held at the university’s main auditorium, Okitipupa.
She urged government and development agencies to accord women more attention due to their significant contributions and integral roles in the economy of the ocean and maritime sector.
Agbebi posited that women played key roles in inland fisheries, an important sector for food security, through reliable supply of ocean foods that many depend on for their daily nutrition, survival and businesses across the globe.
According to her, women’s contribution is highly overlooked, less appreciated and undervalued, while they do the bulk of the job in the farming and fishing for the survival of human and aquatic species.
“Women in indigenous and local coastal communities have extensive local and traditional ecological knowledge which contributes towards the sustainable use and conservation of marine and coastal ecosystems.
“Their activities, paid and unpaid include pre and post-harvest activities, seaweed and shellfish collection, fishing, weaving and repairing nets, processing, sales, local and intra-regional trade,” she said.
Agbebi argued that women roles can not be over emphasised in the blue economy, which she described as the sustainable use and management of ocean resources for economic growth, massive job creation and environmental conservation.
The first female presenter of inaugural lecture in OAUSTECH also highlighted the contributions of women in ocean economy including small scale and artisanal fisheries, seafood processing and packaging.
The don pointed out the active involvement of women in tourism industry growing presence as ship captains, navigators and engineers, marine research and taking up of leadership positions in maritime and ocean-related organisations among others.
She opined that for their ever increasing participation and unquantifiable contributions to marine and blue economy sustainability, women deserved to be accorded similar recognition and opportunities like their male counterparts by government and development agencies.
Agbebi said women should be granted increased access to facilities through grants and loans to expand their business, procure adequate equipment required to step up production and export opportunities to maximize profitability and derive extrinsic satisfaction in the profession of their choice.
“If we really want the Marine and Blue Economy sector to reach its full potentials, women must be empowered, adequately protected from gender-based violence such as sexual harassment and assault that compromise their safety when working on boat and in the processing plants and their voice must count in decision making in the maritime sector,” she said.
In his remarks, Prof. Temi Ologunorisa, the Vice-Chancellor of the university, called on women to rise above all social and cultural odds, and make significant researches and contributions to better the lot of women in the society and the world at large.
Ologunorisa congratulated Agbebi for her milestone achievements and contributions to knowledge, and timely advocacy to make women voice and contributions count in the maritime sector.