Ashoka Fellow
South Africa,
Fellow Since 2003
South African Fisherwomen Association


This profile was prepared when Sahra Luyt was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2003.
The New Idea
Sahra, a fisherwoman, has launched an initiative that is allowing women from previously disadvantaged poor communities access into the largely white, male-dominated South African fishing industry. She has created an association–the South African Fisherwomen Association (SAFWA) that is employing a complementary series of strategies that include collective marketing of fish and fish products; lobbying the government to create a more enabling environment for small-scale fishers; forming contractual relationships with boat owners who provide practical training on all aspects of fishing to the association's members; development of ancillary industries to supplement income during the off-season; inculcation of an environmental ethic among members; and conducting sea-safety training courses and life-skills modules that empower the women beyond the fishing industry.
Sahra recognized that in poor coastal communities, women are often at the mercy of their male partners who in some cases, through the fortunate beneficiaries of government efforts to transform the industry, squandered earnings to the detriment of their families. Furthermore, she noticed that though the Department of Marine and Coastal Management was inviting women into the industry, no real efforts were being made to contribute to the success of these women. She asserts that "simply stating that fishermen must train the women is unacceptable as they are discouraged from becoming skippers or being totally involved in all aspects of the fishing industry." More of an effort to integrate women into the industry is required for them to truly benefit economically and socially.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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