The 5th United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) is focused on achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls. This involves ensuring equal opportunities and full, effective participation for women at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life. It is also important to give women equal rights to economic resources, financial services and natural resources. Almost 50% of SeyCCAT’s grants support several projects that not only directly contribute to boosting women, but also give fair and unbiased opportunities for young Seychellois to develop interest and gain experiences within the Blue Economy (BE).
SeyCCAT has contributed almost SCR 3,300,000* to several projects focussing on the development and support of entrepreneurs in the BE sector. One of these projects, the TGMI’s accelerator programme which was granted SCR 1,000,000, has been supporting 20 entrepreneurs, aspiring and seasoned, to incubate business ideas and products relevant to the fields of the blue economy and accelerate businesses in this blue space. The aim is to create unbiased sustainable jobs in the sector and develop a working mechanism to boost blue business for the long-term.
The Go Now! social venture has been creating bridges between potential volunteers and civil society organisations which are promoting, researching or implementing projects focused on the SDGs and the BE sector. Their target is to engage the youth community in volunteering with BE stakeholders through accessible and inclusive resources (both written and visual). Long-standing biases and gender stereotypes have historically been a factor in steering girls and women away from STEM-fields and business. However, with access to information and opportunities in the BE sector being boosted by projects like Go Now! paths are being forged for girls in the Blue fields.
Projects like the seaweed recycling scheme, led by the Women in Action in Solidarity Organisation (WASO) and awarded SCR 100,000 by SeyCCAT, have made direct positive impacts to the lives of the Seychellois women involved. This project directly benefits vulnerable and disadvantaged women and girls. They are engaged in this income-generating activity where they gain some financial independence thereby helping to alleviate poverty and socioeconomic precariousness and possibly improving quality of life.
In 2019, SeyCCAT jointly funded a deep-sea expedition with Nekton involving a predominantly female team of researchers including Dr Jeanne Mortimer, Sheena Talma, Jennifer Appoo, Stephanie Marie and Clara Belmont. The aims of the expedition were to descend a manned submersible to 500m depth off Aldabra and study the marine predators, seagrass habitats, zooplankton and food web dynamics of this valuable habitat. The mission was successful and, following their involvement, two of the Seychellois women from this expedition were awarded visiting fellowships at the University of Oxford to further their study in marine science (through the Africa Oxford Initiative).
Of the SeyCCAT-funded projects managed by individuals, eight are being led by women. One highlight is an ocean documentary ‘Nou Leker Ble’ created by Dilly Pouponeau. I, for one, am looking forward to even more female-led projects in the future.