The GEF Humboldt project, implemented by the Government of Peru with UNDP support, promotes sustainable management of our ocean using an ecosystem management approach. With this objective, its interventions range from reform of public policies, through to pilot projects to strengthen capacity and eliminate wasteful practices. One such pilot is currently generating a virtuous cycle in Pisco, to the south of Lima, through the promotion of fishing company certification in accordance with international standards for sustainable marine resource management.
One of these companies—aiming to become the first exporter of certified anchovy to the European market—assigns the initial processing phase to small female-headed businesses. This is generating a positive indirect effect on the local economy.
Ruth Jurado´s small business is case in point. She has thirty years of experience in the marine products processing industry. In the middle of the 1980s she and her husband began processing scallops, before later turning to winkles and clams. They have been working with anchovy for several years.
At her primary processing plant in San Andrés, Jurado employs dozens of women to remove the heads from the specimens before covering them with salt and placing them in barrels so as to preserve them until they reach the final processing plant. It is common for this kind of work to be undertaken by women in Pisco—perhaps because they are more careful and more skillful with their hands.
Understanding our ocean´s richness means also understanding its social impact: the fishing industry employs 250 thousand people along the Peruvian coast, the majority of whom are women. The activity of Ruth Jurado’s small business―which provides employment to some seventy women—coincides perfectly with Sustainable Development Goal 5, which aims for the full and effective participation by women, and equality of opportunity for leadership at all decision-making levels in political, economic, and public life.
“We have young women, many of them mothers, who support themselves with the income they earn here. But we also have older women who would not find work elsewhere”, says Jurado, whose plant is located on a large site and has been constructed in accordance with the strict rules of the target market for this product—the European Union. In other words, cleanliness and order are fundamental aspects of the daily work.
Advantages of working in the processing plant include the fact that the labor is not heavy and that income is linked to productivity. The hours are another advantage: work begins early and finishes before lunchtime. This enables the women to look after their children when school finishes.
Sisters Deysi and Rosana Rosana Córdova Cruz, from Piura, have worked with anchovy for three years. They are both around thirty years old and have small children. The husband of one is a dock worker in the market and the other is a construction worker and driver. Each woman´s income helps meet certain household expenses. “I worked in homes and restaurants before, but now I feel more relaxed”, says Rosana, who years earlier worked in crab processing. Rocío Felipa Almeyda, 33, feels the same. She takes advantage of the working arrangements to attend to the raising of her children.
Something similar can be observed at the final processing plant of the Compañia Americana de Conservas. Here, in addition to adopting best production practices, the company offers its employees benefits such as a childcare services, small business training, and reduced prices for the purchase of its product. These women, just like that the workers at Ruth Jurado´s small business, know the importance of the role they play in anchovy processing. And they also know that this resource provided by our ocean is one that we must continue to harvest sustainably.
A story from the MINAM book “Una misma mirada a partir de muchas voces” (Many voices, the same perspective). Photos: Omar Lucas