In the past three and a half a century since fisheries development was embarked upon in West Africa, the significant contributions of women in sustaining the socio-economic livelihoods of their families has been neglected and taken for granted. Development and support systems have paid much less attention to the economic potentials of women in small-scale fisheries in West Africa. Women in developing economies, especially in Africa lack access to services such as credit, fisheries extension, technology, information and basic education which are critical for shifting patterns of fisheries production or increasing output, all these are limited. Research information on the role and extent of women’s involvement in agricultural and/or fisheries development process show a genuine desire to improve their socio-economic status. However, by a combination of factors, women could not break through the cycle of poverty. There is therefore need for the support systems to be organized in a way that should bring about social changes that may be resisted at first, but will eventually promote the role of women in the economy. Gender relations should not be seen as competitive but rather as complementary and mutually reinforcing. General recommendations include: training and extension programmes in fisheries targeting women in areas where they contribute to fisheries activities like processing, packaging, distribution and marketing; microcredit programmes to benefit women; networks formed at national level with the active participation of all the stakeholders.
Keywords: women, small-scale, fisheries, potential, extension, training, and support system.
Williams, S.B. Economic Potentials of Women in Small-scale Fisheries in West Africa. In: Microbehavior and Macroresults: Proceedings of the Tenth Biennial Conference of the International Institute of Fisheries Economics and Trade, July 10-14, 2000, Corvallis, Oregon, USA. Compiled by Richard S. Johnston and Ann L. Shriver. International Institute of Fisheries Economics and Trade (IIFET), Corvallis, 2001.