Occupational hazards & risk coverage – Special focus on women insurance products in fisheries and aquaculture

Monday, September 25, 2023

11:00 – 12:30 (Rome Time, GMT +2)

Event Summary

The event was well-attended by practitioners from the public- and private insurance industry, women member-based fisherfolk organizations, representatives from government fisheries departments, academic institutions, and NGOs, mainly from Asia-Pacific, Africa, and European regions. The discussion focused on various aspects that included the contribution of women in small-scale fisheries to the aquatic food system, the critical role of women in entire value chain activities aquaculture, mariculture, pre-and post-harvest processing, fish marketing, distribution, and retail. Women leaders from fisherfolk organizations and representatives from government agencies provided in-depth information on occupational hazards and risks faced by the women force mainly engaged in the small-scale fisheries and aquaculture sector. They shared unique insights and presented the expectations from the demand side that may be considered by insurance service providers to develop suitable women-centric products in the fisheries and aquaculture value chain. The experience shared by the microinsurance provider to address the insurance needs of women small-scale producers through appropriate technical support, distribution of insurance services through fisherfolk cooperatives and focus on financial literacy through digital engagements with the communities.



Aquatic food systems are a major employer of women globally and constitute an important source of livelihood for women than for men in several countries. Attitudes towards women’s work outside the home, the acceptability of gender-based violence and other norms affecting women’s livelihoods in aquatic food systems remain restrictive in much of the world.

World over 600 million depend on the fishery and aquaculture sector for their livelihood. Around 21 percent of all workers in the fishery and aquaculture primary sector are women, with a 50 percent dominant workforce employed in post-harvest activities (FAO 2022). Women play a central role in entire value chain activities, aquaculture, mariculture, pre- and post-harvest processing, fish marketing, distribution, and retail. As confirmed by the recent Illuminating Hidden Harvests (IHH) study, 45 million women participate in small-scale fisheries (SSF); this includes for subsistence, contributing in no small measure to its growth story. The roles may be context specific and varies within and between countries. Although women participation is more prominent in post-harvest activities, recent evidence shows an increasing participation in aquaculture production and harvesting of fish, shellfish, and marine algal species as small-scale producers. The contribution of women engagement is commonly seen in the following: weaving and mending fishing nets; sorting the landed fish catch; drying, smoking and other traditional fish processing; floor level fish processing work in commercial factories; gleaning for shellfish and cephalopod varieties, and fishing (at sea, estuaries, and freshwater bodies like creeks, canals, lakes, reservoirs, and rivers).

When occupational hazards and risks in the fisheries and aquaculture sector are discussed for developing appropriate insurance products, the obvious ones are those related to men’s work. These could be accidents at sea, loss of fishing vessels, equipment’s, and gear due to inclement weather, personal injury to crew members, loss of crop, climate risks to name a few. Women workers are more likely than male workers to work longer hours as full-time, part-time, or occasional workers for lesser wages with minimal benefits, limited access to finance, minimal risk cover and social security benefits.

The hazards and risks that women workers may face during their work in fish landing spaces, processing factories, markets and other nodes in fish value chains is grossly underrepresented and simply not estimated. Women drying fish face weather related risks and hazards (for example loss of fish due to unseasonal rains; heat strokes), while doing traditional smoking of fish they are subject to hazardous chemicals that have long term effects on human health. In processing plants, the working conditions are potentially hazardous this includes but not limited to the following: low temperatures, wet and biologically hazardous conditions, long hours in the same posture, tools operation and exposure to industrial machines, bruises, cuts, and scrapes, stings, release of poison. This is further coupled with the health and biological risks they face within the processing sector. In markets there are fish handling, storage, and preservation related issues as well as safety concerns. Further to this the aquaculture risk identifications and risk covers are undermined and not well addressed by the insurance industry. All these need serious and urgent attention. Strategies and action should be aligned with the SDGs; especially SGD 5 (Gender Equality) and SDG 8 (Decent Work) keeping the core SDG 14 (Life Below Water) and focus on Target 14.B. Provide access for small-scale artisanal fisheries to marine resources and markets.

The attention of policy makers and the fishery and aquaculture industry that provides employment to the large women’s labour force needs to be drawn to the imperative that businesses should be providing not only decent working conditions, equal wages/opportunities, but also insurance/risk coverage for women in the part-time and full-time labour force in post-harvest fish value chain activities. There is an equally greater need for the insurance industry to design and develop women-centric resilience products for provision of safety nets for women in fisheries and aquaculture activities. This webinar will discuss the hazards and risks specific to fisherwomen’s work to highlight the needs for insurance cover.


CAFI SSF – Webinar Talk Series brings to its member organizations and interested participants panel speaker representation from insurance industry, women member-based fisherfolk organizations, government representatives and academic researchers. The aim is to discuss key entry points that may enable and support pathways which are needed for an inclusive financial Blue Transformation Innovation, to develop insurance products and service delivery models/mechanisms and distributions network that are accessible to SSF communities.

CAFI SSF Webinar is organized for all stakeholders involved with SSF finance and insurance.

Programme Agenda
Welcome Address – Ms. Suchitra Upare (Coordinator, CAFI SSF Network)
Contribution of women in small-scalefisheries to healthy aquatic foodsystems – Mr. Matteo Luzzi(Gender Consultant, Food and Agriculture Organizations of the United Nations)
Occupational hazards of women inseaweed farming – Dr. Flower Msuya (Chairperson, Zanzibar Seaweed Cluster Initiative (ZASCI))
Occupational hazards of women fishprocessors and traders – Ms. Oluwafunmilola Shelika (President, African Women Fish Processors and Traders Network)
Mainstreaming occupational needs offisherwomen: Perspectives from Kenya – Ms. Maryam Mbui (Fisheries Officer, Kenya Fisheries Services)
Risk related issues of women in small-scale fisheries in Philippines – Ms. Gavina Tumbaga (Council Member, National Anti-Poverty Commission, Philippines)
Experience sharing – micro-insurancesolutions for women small-scaleaquaculture producers in Indonesia- Dr. Graham Clark(Chairman & CEO, Asia Affinity Holdings Limited)
Investing in women-orientedbusinesses in fisheries and aquaculture- Ms. Suchitra Upare & Dr. Nikita Gopal
The way forward: IDF country strategiesfor scaling up microinsurance projects – Mr. Pedro Pinheiro (Project Manager, Microinsurance Network–IDF Inclusive Insurance Group)


Closing Remarks- Dr. Nikita Gopal (Chair, Gender in Aquaculture and Fisheries Section of the Asian Fisheries Society)

You may RSVP to the CAFI-SSF coordinator: cafi-ssf@fao.org or suchitra.upare@fao.org