International Women's Day / by Francisco Blaha

I’m not going quote statistics, UN figures or analyse historical trends. Just say that over the 30 years I been working in fisheries, I have seen an increased number of women being involved in all areas of fisheries, and it has been an amazingly positive contribution in all areas.

 Charlyn getting the taiwanese long liners in line

Charlyn getting the taiwanese long liners in line

And this is way beyond the cliché office jobs of fisheries, I had female colleagues on the field jumping form boat to boat (as my friend Charlyn form Solomons in the picture above), doing intelligence analysis in front of screens and logsheets and figuring out the most complex set of transhipments in PNG (Yaniba from PNG), compiling datasets in -20C freezers to do mass balance analysis (Suni), dealing with stocks of unpronounceable engine parts in a vessels warehouse (Phyllis on the middle of the last photo)  holding their ground to culturally chauvinistic males (as Martina in the picture below), keeping the line with agresive taiwanese captains (Cynthia on the right of the last photo), and as a captain of a 70m factory vessel (Simunovich’s Ocean Dawn - Sylvia was amazing she could do any job in the boat as good as anyone else and kept a real fair and tidy boat, I never hear anyone of the mostly man on board say nothing but respectful words about her).

 Martina stating the rule of law

Martina stating the rule of law

And yes, I also had some amazing managers and contractors over the years, woman with vision, drive, compasion and and style (Pam, Anja, Donna, Ludovica, Cushla, Kim, Amanda, Judith, Victoria, Anne-Maree... just to name a few) as part of my work with FFA, GIZ, Simunovich, FAO, UNCTAD, SIPPO, NZAID and many more.

Perhaps that is the key point for me with all these amazing colleagues, is that has always been about the job to be done and respect (which always go both ways). Thankfully I did not had many conflict with man at work, but the few I had were mostly ego based. I have not had that with my female colleagues, somehow the ego/testosterone driven issues placate and everyone looks into results. I wish this was to happen more often.

 Part of the amazing field crew from NFD in the solomons

Part of the amazing field crew from NFD in the solomons

Surely it has also to do with education and roles models, my mother has always been a fiercely independent woman (the 1st generation of professional woman tennis player), I married a very independent intellectual with broad knoledge and style and have proud smart girl as daughter that trully believe she is equal to anyone and everyone.

Hence, as a big burly (195 cm and 110kg) fisherman I fully celebrate woman's day and particularly in fisheries, you have been amazing to work with, and I know that because the way things are you have to do twice an effort just to be considered equal and chances are you are being paid less that your male equivalent. Please don't give up, we need you here with us, fisheries needs you.