The Long Journey to Equality

Women weighing riverine fish catch, India. Photo: Lalit Tyagi.

Women weighing riverine fish catch, India. Photo: Lalit Tyagi.

We see some greater commitment to gender equality in policies and by institutions, but the position of women in mainstream and traditional value chains is still eroding despite new technologies accessible to women and new development approaches.

This was the conclusion of the full report of GAF5, the 5th Global Symposium on Gender in Aquaculture and Fisheries. Based on presentations and discussions, the report explores five themes: (1) greater policy and institutional commitment to gender equality; (2) the eroding position of women in aquaculture and fisheries; (3) new technologies for women and new gender equality approaches; (4) diagnosing diversity and enabling action; and (5) GAF101, networks and GAF information.

Read the full report.

M.C. Nandeesha: High Priest of Gender Equity in Fisheries

A Tribute by Pedro Bueno, former Director General NACA

Photo: PADEK, Seminar Proceedings, back cover.

Photo: PADEK, Seminar Proceedings, back cover.

He went to work in what was then called Kampuchea whose countryside was still strewn with unexploded bombs and land mines. He was young and probably cared little if he stepped on one. He promoted to a country, reeling from genocide, aquaculture development. It was for the small and subsistence farm households, which at that time all of them were. He was employed by the Netherlands-based NGO, Partnership for the Development of Kampuchea – PADEK. Funded by charity, he did much to make the P in PADEK — real and working.  He trained young technicians and researchers, many of whom were recovering from the trauma of losing relatives, and marshaled them into a youthful, enthusiastic and skilled cadre for rural aquaculture development. Some of them have taken up responsible posts as researchers and managers in Cambodian Fisheries and the Mekong River Commission.

He saw the need  to harness the productive power of  half the population (in post-war Cambodia, the women made up a lot more than half of the population) of a country to pull it out of the morass created by a brutal regime and help propel it towards the edge of modernization. He started a women in fisheries programme in Indo-China and was the movement’s high priest; he preached women in fisheries development. It was in the 1996 Indochina workshop on women-in-fisheries that I was cajoled by him into writing and presenting a paper. It took some work to write and a lot of courage to present it. That was my initiation into women in fisheries development. I thank Nandeesh for this broadening of my perspective to fisheries development.

From Cambodia he moved to Bangladesh where he infused CARE’s technical programme with the social dimension of women’s welfare and their contribution to rural progress. I worked with him in a few more women-in-fisheries development conferences, the last one in the Asian Fisheries and Aquaculture Forum in Shanghai in April 2011. The last occasion in which I was in the same panel of resource speakers and discussants with him was the Global Aquaculture Alliance forum in Bangkok in November 2012. It was on a theme other than women in fisheries (“assurance of decent employment for workers in aquaculture farms and processing plants”) but he was just as passionate in his advocacy. For in the farms and factories, women provide much of the work.  And most important of all — as he depicted in a striking poster of a Parvati-like mother that he helped design for CARE Bangladesh — in the home. For he was first and foremost a good husband and father.

Related links:

Second Anniversary of Dr M.C. Nandeesha

Gender lessons from field research in Bangladesh and Zambia

AAS GTCA new report from the CGIAR Aquatic Agricultural Systems (AAS) research program picks out some early lessons from the floodplains of Bangladesh and Zambia where the gender transformative approach is being tested in the field. The approach, which the AAS program seeks to apply, tries to go beyond simple gender approaches and checklists that usually oversimplify the challenges of gender. “By not viewing gender as part of how society works, mainstream agricultural [and fisheries] practice accepts the social status quo without questioning whether and how existing norms, attitudes and distributions of power frame the opportunities and outcomes of women and men, thus creating inequalities.

The report, “Gender-transformative approaches to address inequalities in food, nutrition and economic outcomes in aquatic agricultural systems,” found:

  • The need to engage with the women and men as members of families, not only as individual farmers
  •  The need to understand how to stimulate market actors to be more gender responsive
  • The importance of communications that help change behaviour and disseminate information on role models and success stories, as well gender champions who can engage at the community level, including with key leaders
  • The need for participatory research to help generate critical reflection on the causes and transformative opportunities in key social issues such as the underlying negative gendered causes for women-headed households

The report is available for download.

Genderaquafish.org: 2014 year in review

GAF5 attendees on opening day, 13 November 2014, Lucknow, India

GAF5 attendees on opening day, 13 November 2014, Lucknow, India

Our Genderaquafish.org website continued to grow in popularity in 2014, with visits to the site increasing by 9% over the 2013 level, reaching 18,454 visits from people in at least 162 countries, covering all regions. Our top 5 countries for visitors were: India (4,734), USA (2,528), Philippines (941), Malaysia (831), UK (696).

Genderaquafish.org visitors came from all regions and most countries of the world.

Genderaquafish.org visitors came from all regions and most countries of the world.

2014 stats by region

Read the short annual report provided by WordPress, our wonderful site host: http://genderaquafish.org/2014/annual-report/

REGIONS

Posts from Asia and Africa were the most prevalent. We also produced posts covering Europe, the Americas, and Oceania. In addition, the gender dimensions of several global documents and events were highlighted, such as the Small Scale Fisheries Guidelines and the fish and food security report of the High Level Panel of Experts advising the UN Committee on Food Security.

PUBLICATIONS

We released the second Special Issue of the Asian Fisheries Science journal (27S), containing papers and the Guest Editorial from our 2013 4th Global Symposium on Gender in Aquaculture and Fisheries (GAF4).

PEOPLE

Many of our posts highlighted people active in progressing gender equality in the aquaculture and fisheries sectors (see posts on people). In March, we reported with concern the loss aboard flight MH370 of Dr Chandrika Sharma, the Executive Secretary of the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers, and a driving force in the Small Scale Fisheries Guidelines.

2014 was a big year for Dr Nikita Gopal, who not only was chief editor for the GAF4 Special Issue but also led the programme and operations for GAF5.

THEMES

Aquaculture, organizations, climate change and development were recurring themes in our posts.

EVENTS

Of several 2014 events that included gender sessions, we covered GAF5 (5th Global Symposium on Gender in Aquaculture and Fisheries) in most depth. We still hope to also add some information on other 2014 events, especially the 2014 Adelaide World Aquaculture Society conference Women’s Contributions to Aquaculture session and the gender papers of the 2014 IIFET conference in Brisbane.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Our strength on various social media continued to grow slowly, thanks to contributions from many regular friends and readers, and special help from Piyashi DebRoy and Danika Kleiber (our Google Group leaders), Chloe English for assistance on Twitter during GAF5 (@Genderaquafish). Our Facebook page continued to attract good and increasing traffic.

WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE FOR 2015?

We intend to follow-up on the action items from our GAF5 networks meeting in Lucknow in November. This work includes some great innovations for this website. Stay tuned!

Second Anniversary of Dr M.C. Nandeesha

Dr M.C. Nandeesha

Dr M.C. Nandeesha

On 27 December 2012, we lost Dr M.C. Nandeesha, who brought awareness to the importance of women in Asian and global fisheries, and who initiated the first substantive activities to address gender inequality to the work and the considerations of the Asian Fisheries Society.

Beginning with the 1990 Women in Fisheries in India Workshop, held at the 2nd Indian Fisheries Forum in Mangalore, Nandeesha later initiated women in fisheries PADEK funded photo competitions in conjunction with the Asian Fisheries Forums. These led to the Asian Fisheries Society’s Women in Fisheries and later Gender in Aquaculture and Fisheries (GAF) Symposia, of which 7 have now been held since 1998. The latest GAF symposium was held in November 2014 in Lucknow, India, in conjunction with the 10th Indian Fisheries and Aquaculture Forum (click here for information).

An essay on Dr Nandeesha’s contributions to the Asian Fisheries Society’s women/gender activities has just been published:  Essay: Dr M.C. Nandeesha: The Man Who Brought Gender Awareness to the Asian Fisheries Society Asian Fisheries Science Special Issue 27S. This Essay also examines Dr Nandeesha’s approach to getting key issues addressed. He typically started with getting the issues onto key agendas, helping start up substantive action and then widening the circle of committed people working to advance these issues. Throughout, he lived the values he promoted in these issues, such as gender equity in aquaculture and education.

Poster created in Bangaldesh under guidance of Dr Nandeesha

Poster created in Bangaldesh under guidance of Dr Nandeesha

A small team of Dr Nandeesha’s colleagues are now preparing more material to acknowledge his many other contributions to institution and capacity building, as well as research and development in aquaculture and fisheries.

For more information on our first anniversary post: click here

Asian Fisheries Science publishes Special Issue of GAF4 papers

A fishing family in the Pichavaram mangroves, Tamil Nadu, India, taking part in a gendered ecological economics  study by Piyashi DebRoy and colleagues. Photo: Piyashi DebRoy.

A fishing family in the Pichavaram mangroves, Tamil Nadu, India, taking part in a gendered ecological economics study by Piyashi DebRoy and colleagues. Photo: Piyashi DebRoy.

Charting the progress on gender equality in aquaculture and fisheries, this Asian Fisheries Science journal Special Issue gives a reasonably upbeat assessment, despite the huge challenges, especially for women.

Based on the 2013 4th Global Symposium on Gender in Aquaculture and Fisheries (GAF4), Dr Nikita Gopal, the chief Guest Editor, said that “gender is now more firmly on some key policy agendas, is embedded in certain major normative international documents, such as the Small Scale Fisheries Guidelines, and is receiving early institutional, policy and donor support. Attention is also being given to methodological and methods development as more practitioners engage in gender work.” The Guest Editorial, however, points out that gender will not be fully integrated into programs and institutions until agencies face up to implementation challenges such as lack of leadership and resources, and the fish sector recognizes the worth of engendering fisheries. Dr Gopal pointed out that “the current position is still much better than when researchers and activists were still struggling to get gender on the agenda, which was the assessment by experts after the 2011 GAF3 Symposium.”

The Special Issue containing GAF4 papers can be downloaded for free , in total or by individual papers. Click here for the links.

Efforts to ensure that gender is included in the new climate agreement

Fishing family recovering from typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), Philippines. Photo: M. Sumagaysay.

Fishing family recovering from typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), Philippines. Photo: M. Sumagaysay.

COP20, the UN climate conference is now underway in Lima, Peru (20th session of the Conference of the Parties and the 10th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol). Concerted efforts are being made to engender the new climate agreement that the countries are negotiating, informed and influenced by numerous non-government groups.

The 9th December was Gender Day at COP20. Gender issues were recognized in a series of papers, none unfortunately addressing the aquaculture and fisheries sectors, in the UN magazine, Outreach. Nevertheless, the set of papers is a good outline of the history so far of how gender is and is not incorporated and makes a strong case for much more systematic incorporation of gender into climate policies and actions on the ground.

Contents (download pdf of whole report here).

1. Time to act: Let’s make this the century of women’s empowerment and rights
2. Gender and climate change: Shoehorned or real?
3. Gender equality in a new climate agreement 4 The silent sufferers of climate change
5. Measuring, reporting and verification for women’s empowerment: The W+ Standard
6. All India Women’s Conference’s initiatives at national level to abate climate change
7. Connecting the dots: Relating forests and food to women’s empowerment and community resilience at the COP20 negotiations
8. Gender in the climate negotiations – moving from a side issue to a common thread