In July, Masifundise met with a group of women in Jozini, Kwazulu-Natal. The meeting aimed at collecting information for Masifundise’s second evidence-based research report on women in inland fishing communities. The communities surrounding the Jozini (Pongolo), Vanderkloof and Gariep dams will serve as case studies in the report.

During the visit the team collected information from the women by conducting interviews, individual questionnaires and a focus group.

This came as the National Freshwater (Inland) Wild Capture Fisheries Policy was gazetted for implementation by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) on 25 February 2022.

The Inland Fisheries Policy builds on some of the key principles of South Africa’s coastal Small-scale Fisheries Policy and the 2014 Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (SSF Guidelines). Although these documents explicitly refer to gender equity and equality, the Inland Fisheries Policy makes no specific reference to issues of gender.

“It is therefore important to ensure that the voices of the women living in inland fishing communities are heard and that they are recognised so that during the implementation of the policy, the needs and interests of women are adequately addressed,” said Yvette Le Fleur Junior Researcher at Masifundise.

Masifundise’s research report seeks to shed light on the history of women’s involvement in inland small-scale and traditional fisheries, their socio-economic circumstances, their lived-realities and their role and significance to the small-scale fishing sector. It will also explore the role they play in their households and the broader community.

“The idea is that this information can be useful towards advocacy and can be used to guide those responsible for implementation of the policy to ensure that women are sufficiently included in the sector. The report will also assist with creating an environment that will allow them reach their full potential within the sector, as well as within their households as providers for their families and as leaders in their communities”, continued Le Fleur.