The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) yesterday held a dialogue on the inclusion of women in the digital transformation of the blue economy in Bangladesh. The event, which had an all-female panel, was part of FAO’s celebration of International Women’s Day which this year has the theme ‘DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality’.
In order to achieve the goals of enhancing food and nutrition security and sustaining livelihoods, aquatic value chains require innovations to make them more efficient, transparent, responsive, and inclusive. Digital technologies are at the forefront of innovation and will be necessary to transform fisheries and aquaculture, as well as agriculture. Since women form around a third of the fisheries sector in Bangladesh, they have great potential to drive transformation if they are given equitable access to digital technology.
Robert D. Simpson, FAO Representative in Bangladesh, said: “Not everyone, especially women, have the opportunity to explore and tap into the vast opportunities that the digital space offers. Widening access for the country’s many female fishers as well as smallholder farmers, will provide many benefits and open up many opportunities for them and in turn will help accelerate the transformation of the country’s aquaculture and agriculture sectors. Bringing women into technology results in more creative solutions and has greater potential for innovations that meet women’s needs and promote gender equality.”
The dialogue, held at the Sheraton Hotel in Dhaka, was organized through FAO’s ‘Community-based Climate Resilient Fisheries and Aquaculture Development in Bangladesh’ project. The project, which is implemented jointly with the Department of Fisheries (DoF) and funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), has been working with fishers and fish farmers in six districts. By providing technology, information and skill development training, it is leading the way in promoting the digitalization of the fisheries and aquaculture sector.
The event was chaired by Kh. Mahbubul Haque, Director-General, Department of Fisheries, and moderated by Sadeka Halim, Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Dhaka. Panelists included Mukta Biswas, President, Rudaghora Bagda Chashi Samittee, Khulna; Kamrun Nahar, Senior Gender and Nutrition Specialist, WorldFish Bangladesh; Medina Ali, Founder and CEO, Median Tech Limited; Ferdousi Begum, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs; and Shamim Ara Begum, Director (Inland Fisheries), Department of Fisheries.
Norman Mushabe, FAO Senior Technical Advisor (Fisheries and Climate Change), said: “If Bangladesh is to accelerate transformation of the blue economy, then women fishers must be part of the digital revolution. FAO is working with the government to achieve this. Let us all take time to appreciate the hard work of the county’s millions of female fishers and think about how we can better empower them with information and technology.”
FAO, in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, has established 60 digital villages which serve as information hubs. FAO’s Digital Village Initiative complements the government’s vision for reducing the digital divide between urban and rural areas. In collaboration with DoF, FAO plans to establish a dedicated fisheries digital village in Bohuriachala.