"This event aims to point out the role of women in the sector and improve their life by building up an action plan," said Nguyen Thu Hue, executive director of Marinelife Conservation and Community Development (MCD).
According to Nguyen Thi Hong Minh, former vice minister of Fisheries (now part of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development), Viet Nam ranks eighth in world for fish and aquaculture exports, earning more than US$4 billion so far this year, an increase of 24 per cent on last year.
"85 per cent of workers in seafood processing factories are women"
Nguyen Thi Hong Minh, former vice minister of Fisheries
"Like in other countries, fisheries in Viet Nam supply work for millions of coastal farmers, 50 per cent of them women," Minh said. However, 85 per cent of workers in seafood processing factories are women.
"They seldom receive a high salary or chance of promotion as men do. Female labourers in small-scale fisheries and aquaculture have to work very hard, but their effort isn’t recognised by their own families or the community", said Minh.
"I hope that the action plan will bring positive effects to all in the industry, especially women, who will be the most affected if more fisheries become unsustainable."
More than 60 representatives and experts from Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and Viet Nam gathered to discuss the issues.
They will outline action points for gender equality at a round-table meeting on Friday.
The conference is being held under the auspices of Southeast Asia Fish for Justice (SEAFish), a regional network of non-government and small-scale fisheries organisations, and the Marinelife Conservation and Community Development (MCD) of Viet Nam.