Emerging scientist: Chelcia Gomese

As a global leader in fisheries and aquaculture research, science is at the forefront of our work, delivering robust evidence to policy makers, technological innovations to poor producers and consumers, and novel tools to transform fish agri-food systems. In this new series, we profile our emerging scientists, early career research talents who are already making a significant contribution to fisheries and aquaculture knowledge.

Chelcia Gomese is the Gender Senior Research Analyst in Solomon Islands. Since joining WorldFish in 2017, her work has included linking gender with community-based resource management, livelihoods and nutrition. She has received a number of awards including for her creative writing, such as the Pacific Human Rights Award (2013) and first prize at the World Tuna Day Art and Talent Quest (2013). She has a Master of Environmental Studies from the Victoria University of Wellington, where her thesis looked at using traditional ecological knowledge for resilient food production. 

What are you currently working on  

I’m organizing a Women in Fisheries panel discussion in Solomon Islands as part of the celebrations for International Women’s Day on 8 March. I’m also developing a research paper on capturing the value of women’s fisheries with the help of other WorldFish colleagues. As part of my role, I also contribute substantially to national and global communications about WorldFish and FISH gender research and activities in Solomon Islands.

You describe yourself as a creative person. How do you apply your creativity to your work?

In lots of ways. For example, I am using photography in my research by leading a photovoice project. I believe that the use of visuals is very powerful in countries like Solomon Islands. We tend to collect a lot of data, but the way we present it to communities can be improved. In addition, I have created internal profiles for Solomon Islands staff as a way to increase our visibility as researchers, administrators and technical officers in the country.

WorldFish gender researcher Chelcia Gomese (right) during a theory of change workshop. Photo by WorldFish.

You've written an award-winning poem. Can you tell us more about that?

I’ve actually written two award-winning poems! But I think you are referring to the one I wrote for the SPC 2013 Pacific Human Rights Award. I received special recognition for highlighting the right to education through creative writing. The poem was inspired by the life of my mother and my grandmother. It is about women and girls having the right to education and the struggle my mother and grandmother went through to achieve that. (See below) 

What is your favorite part of the research process and why?  

I have two favorite parts: designing the study and presenting the findings. I love being able to come up with great ideas, and especially having that ‘aha’ moment. My last research idea came to me while I was in a meeting! I also enjoy giving back what I found out to the ‘keepers of the knowledge’. I believe that we, as researchers, sometimes forget the people who provided us with the information for our research. 

What do you hope your gender research achieves?  

I hope it will raise the profile of women in fisheries and give them a voice in a way they’ve never had before and, in turn, contribute to influencing policy. For example, I was part of the core team that produced the Gender analysis of the fisheries sector – Solomon Islands, which was coordinated by WorldFish for the Pacific Community. This research provides critical insights into women’s and men’s role in the fishery sector and supports strengthening of government, central and subnational institutions.

 

The right to learn - a poem by Chelcia Gomese

Bare feet, a bush knife, and string bag swung across the back 

Fresh bananas, nuts and yams, all in a neat stack 

A bundle of leaf on her head, walking down the track 

Her skin and her hair, Melanesian black. 

 

The sun scorched her head, and sweat washed her brow 

Panting breaths, and stooped back as she bent low 

Down the rugged village track she walked slow 

To the market to sell her goods, there she’ll go 

 

Her garden pays an extra wage for her children to learn 

Two more needs to go to school, so she works hard as she can 

She used to stay home while school was for men 

But she works hard so that her daughters too can learn 

 

In a few years’ time her daughters go to school 

To be like other girls, and to be as cool 

To have textbooks, and to sit on their own stool 

To be educated, this is the most important tool 

 

Today, there is a doctor, lawyer, teacher, and an intern 

So in school we worked as hard as we can 

To show that women are as good as the men 

Because we were given the right to learn