Senegalese women are bearing the consequences of climate change as the fish stocks of Saint-Louis, a central fishing hub, are vanishing due to climbing ocean temperatures and rising sea levels. In 2017 alone, fish stocks fell by 82%. Today, the price of fish has become five times more expensive than in previous years. Such impacts are devastating, not only for the women who heavily depend on selling fresh and processed fish in markets as a main source of income, but also to the rest of the Senegalese population as up to 17% are experiencing issues of food insecurity according to the World Food Program. As a result, women’s practice of processing fish has become increasingly important as an additional resource of subsistence - especially the landlocked populations. In response, women’s associations are collectively gathering funds to accommodate the skyrocketing price of fish. Projects such as the Collaborative Management for a Sustainable Fisheries Future (COMFISH), offers workshops to women fish processors throughout Senegal providing them with resources to increase their profits, literacy courses, and alternative modes of creating revenue. Nevertheless, Senegalese women continue to challenge the status quo by urging for government subsidization of fish prices and more support from non-government organizations. Photo credit: Georges Gobet/Getty Images
Nebeday is an association for environmental protection that supports Senegalese women from rural areas to obtain new forms of income outside of the traditional harvesting period through the cultivation and transformation of the moringa plant. The plant adapts to very arid environments and has a positive environmental impact, while also being nutritionally rich. The project also raises awareness of the need for sustainable resource management and the positive impact women can have on the development of the local economy. Photo credit: Video Capture
After Yayi Bayam Diouf’s son passed away, she became the sole breadwinner for her family. Because fishing is traditionally an exclusively male career, she broke gender norms by becoming the first woman to fish for a living in her village in addition to farming mussels and even endangered species. She also opened a training center for other fisherwomen women to learn about entrepreneurship and natural resource management. Photo credit: UN Women Senegal
Mariama Sonko is a farmer and the National Coordinator of We Are The Solution, a food sovereignty campaign led by women in rural parts of West Africa. Working across several countries, the campaign promotes seed conservation and honors women’s ancestral knowledge as a source of social power and food sovereignty. Photo credit: Fahamu
Mariama Sonko is a Senegalese farmer and National Coordinator of We Are The Solution, a campaign for food sovereignty led by rural women in West Africa. Mariama works on behalf of the organization to pressure local governments to preserve traditional farming and reject agriculture that pollutes with chemicals, pesticides, and GMOs. Photo credit: Mariama Sonko.
Women are the primary producers of processed fish in Casamance, Senegal, providing a steady income to women-headed households and saving tonnes of fish from being wasted. However, Bineta Mané, President of the Women’s Union of Fish Processors, explains that most women use inefficient wood-burning stoves that encourage the exploitation of local forests while producing smoke linked to heart disease. After switching to more efficient stoves, the women’s collective is seeing twin environmental and economic benefits of these new processing technologies. Photo credit: UN Women Senegal
The African peasant members of La Via Campesina gathered during the 2011 World Social Forum, in Dakar, Senegal, to launch an African campaign of the international movement to fight violence against women, originally launched in 2008. Women farmers, besides suffering from the violence women face on a daily basis, also face social and economic exclusion and oppression. Being a farmer’s movement, the campaign in Africa set out to conduct activities regional and nationally at the legal advocacy level, to ensure legal protection for women, raise awareness regarding violence against women, strengthen partnerships in multiple levels, especially with the World Women’s March, and claim more female participation in political and public processes. Photo credit: La Via Campesina