The CAPFISH-Capture project in Cambodia was honoured at the GEM Awards at the UNIDO general assembly in Vienna, Austria on November 28. 

The Fisheries Administration (FiA) received the award for “Making Gender Equality a Lived Reality in Industry”. The award acknowledged the project’s significant role in advancing gender equality and empowering women in Cambodia’s fisheries sector, said a joint press release from UNIDO and the EU on November 29.

Poum Sotha, director-general of the FiA, stated that the project had a profound effect on promoting gender equality and empowering women in the sector. The impact was achieved through gender mainstreaming, policy development, business support, project management, research, innovation and enhancing stakeholder capabilities. 

“The CAPFISH-Capture project, jointly executed by FiA and UNIDO, has established a strong foundation. It supports the positive influence of gender equality and women’s post-harvest empowerment. This aligns with the policies for promoting gender equality set by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology and Innovation and the FiA,” he said.

According to the press release, the sector plays a vital role in the country’s economy and food security, with approximately 40 per cent of the population relying on it for their livelihoods. 

Women, in particular, are at the forefront, predominantly owning Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the industry. They are chiefly in charge of processing, marketing, retailing and distributing fisheries products across the country.

Sok Narin, UNIDO’s country representative, commended the project on receiving the award.

“The project’s approach to gender equality has indeed fostered an environment where everyone can flourish, leaving no one behind,” he said.

He highlighted UNIDO’s pride in the project’s continued commitment to promoting the economic roles and empowerment of women, especially in women-led MSMEs. 

The EU-funded project aimed to enhance the post-harvest fisheries sector by improving legal frameworks, boosting institutional capacity and encouraging private sector involvement in adopting and implementing relevant innovations and best practices.

The press release added that with the backing of MSME fisheries, the Value Chain Investment Support (VCIS) scheme provided technical assistance and essential equipment to 28 processing enterprises, including 20 led by women. Most of these ventures received certification from the Cambodia Quality Seal (CQS), and the certification system prioritised gender equality as a key criterion.

Koen Everaert, deputy head of EU cooperation in Cambodia, emphasised the importance of supporting women-led enterprises for the economic development and sustainability of the sector. 

He noted that the success of these businesses significantly contributed to the economy and served as an inspiration, motivating other women to become entrepreneurs and tackle gender inequality. 

“The successful practices of the CAPFISH-Capture project could be implemented elsewhere. These best practices are shared to further promote women’s entrepreneurship and economic empowerment,” he stated.