June 8th is “World Oceans Day” annually. Around the globe events are organized to celebrate and appreciate the ocean by doing beach sweeps and ocean debris clean ups, dives, etc. Each of these activities are designed around a central theme in order to highlight other world dynamics. For 2019, the international theme of World Oceans Day was “Gender and the Ocean” and in South Africa and the Gullah/Geechee Nation “Women and the Ocean” were celebrated.
The above-mentioned theme was proposed for the following reasons:
Women and men have common but different needs, interests, knowledge, skills, and responsibilities in connection to the use and management of marine resources, however, both women and men can contribute towards a positive change.
To promote women representation and participation in sustainable ocean governance and leadership positions.
To promote equal gender sustainable ocean governance contributions to the health of the ocean which mankind so hugely depends upon improving ocean health includes promoting sustainable development, addressing plastic pollution (emanating from inland sources) that threatens marine wildlife, and protecting marine biodiversity.
The lack of mentorship of young women in strengthening their capacity to participate in sustainable ocean governance and oceans economy.
To promote the development of skills necessary to empower women to participate as leaders in the oceans economy.
To create synergies and strengthen networks that encourage women participation in ocean governance, politics and business, and support the sharing of knowledge and experience.
To promote legal frameworks including laws and policies to ensure the full participation of women in sustainable ocean governance without discrimination as well as to develop specific measures to address violence against women in ocean governance and politics in all its forms and manifestations.
To encourage the adoption of policies that ensure women’s equal participation in the oceans economy and in society thus creating an environment where gender equality is respected, and inclusion is part of the organizational culture.
The women in the Gullah/Geechee Nation have long appreciated the ocean and the other waterways as spiritual areas and recognize their sacredness. They have led numerous activities such as numerous libation ceremonies, the Gullah/Geechee Reunion and Worship by the Sea sponsored the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Committee of Northeast Florida held at the ocean over the past two decades. They continue to be active in the work of the Gullah/Geechee Fishing Association and the work to #SaveOurOcean and #ProtectOurCoast along with a plethora of global partners. They stand as a true example that #TogetherWeCan face the numerous challenges that are plaguing and polluting our ocean.
Tenki Tenki fa de Gullah/Geechee ooman fa standin amidst de spirits of Oshun and Yemoja and prayin ta GAWD fa heal de land and de wata. De wata da we! So, World Oceans Day da ebeeday de #GullahGeechee way!