6th GLOBAL SYMPOSIUM ON GENDER IN AQUACULTURE AND FISHERIES, 3-7 August 2016, Bangkok, Thailand @ 11th Asian Fisheries & Aquaculture Forum, Asian Fisheries Society
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), through its GLOBEFISH unit on international fish trade, recently released a report – “The Role of Women in the Seafood Industry” – that highlighted the contributions and constraints on women through all levels and scales of the fish industry. The report, written by Marie-Christine Monfort, is a welcome addition to the global analysis of women in the industry and particularly focuses its attention on “the
widespread lack of consideration for their role and work in the seafood industry is, in many respects, disadvantageous to them and ultimately bars them from participating fully and equitably in the industry.” It is aimed to raise awareness in business leaders and policy makers.
In its general analysis and conclusions, much of what the report says will not be news to readers of this website, but the author makes her points well and strongly, for example in tables such as that below on “where are the women.”
In particular, the author, herself successful in the seafood industry, takes a private sector industry view that distinguishes it from the studies and reports of academics and government experts, with a strong focus on what is happening in companies of all sizes and in their workforces and management. She gives board and management numbers and employee number by gender for the top companies, and lists companies headed by women.
A unique feature comes in the second part of the report, namely the 6 case studies of Croatia, Egypt, France, Iceland, India and Senegal. Each country is analysed for the knowledge about women’s participation in the seafood industry, awareness of gender inequalities and corrective measures in the seafood industry. The picture is not encouraging, with the possible exception of Iceland where knowledge and awareness are high, but corrective measures to help women still largely lacking, although now the women have created their own supportive network.
The report can be obtained from FAO: click here, or contact Dr Audun Lem of FAO (firstname.lastname@example.org) for inquires.
See also Marie-Christine Monfort’s presentation at GAF5.
These reports on the Women in Aquaculture and Fishery Session at WA2015, held at the ICC Jeju, Korea, 27 May 2015, have been written by Jin Yeong Kim, Bibha Kumari and Jenny Cobcroft. Thanks also to Aquaculture without Frontiers (AwF) Women’s Network, World Aquaculture Society, Roy Palmer and all the presenters.
Women in Aquaculture and Fisheries Presentations
By Jin Yeong Kim and Bibha Kumari
The World Aquaculture 2015 (WA2015) session on Women in Aquaculture and Fisheries was held in the ICC Jeju, Korea, in Samda hall ‘A’ from 11:30 am to 17:10 pm and chaired by Jin Yeong Kim and Bibha Kumari. Seven oral presentations were made in the session, and, in relation to women’s labor, one oral presentation was made in the cage culture session and added to this summary. The session also held a panel discussion, led by Jennifer Cobcroft and followed this by the presentation of the awards WAS-APC/AwF Travel grants and AwF Woman of the Month by Mr. R. D. Palmer, President of AwF and World Aquaculture Society Director.
The main points from the presentations were as follows:
1. Hye-Kyung Choa (Korea) introduced Jeju’s unique culture of the haenyeo’s life using a short film on these female divers of Jeju Island who collect seafood and seaweed without using any breathing equipment. Although these women follow a lifelong profession that has endured and been supporting their families for many centuries, present haenyeo are no longer passing diving skills to the next generation. Recently challenges to the traditional haenyeo culture is how to manage marine resources and find effective ways to pass down their community culture.
2. Seungmok Ha (Korea) showed that site-specific MSY of turban shell harvesting by fisherwomen tended to be high where the biomass of the brown algal species was generally high. To understand the causes of the declining stock of turban shell, a long-term program is required to monitor the status of algal species and environmental and human factors that impact on them.
3. Jin Yeong Kim (Korea) summarized recent changes for fisherwomen’s contribution and to the small scale fisheries in Korea. It is a commonly emerging trend in the coastal long line, jigging and gill drift net fisheries of married fisher couples for husbands to drive a boat and operate fishing gear and for wives to support the netting and collecting of products on board on the fishing grounds. Traditionally, women did not work on the boats. Issues were concentrated on the women’s new perspectives on the environmental, social, economic and livelihood changes from a fishing community.
4. Arlene Satapornvanit (NACA) explained the assessment of gender in aquaculture in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam under the MARKET project. Insufficient gender/sex-disaggregated data are available in aquaculture in these countries. Participation exist in varying degrees but very few women are in top positions. Therefore detailed research planning & design with statistics and data collections are needed. Information exchange among countries and practitioners, including curriculum and training development will be helpful to strengthen capacities.
5. Arlene Satapornvanit (NACA) also explained women’s involvement in selected aquaculture value chains in three countries vis. Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam, to identify and analyze the role and activities of women and men in the grow-out stage of aquaculture. In the case studies, she summarized, for a few women, their status apart from their families, the social and economic problems they face, and how they are successful in aquaculture in these countries.
6. Zumilah Zainalaludin (Malaysia) expressed the need for the active involvement of women in aquaculture for future family wellbeing. For this there should be research networking for gender analysis based on activities for good aquaculture practices. She proposed a policy and program to the government that would enhance the development of the aquaculture industry. Sharing of gender training materials is also important.
7. T. V. Anna Mercy (India) emphasized that engagement of women in ornamental fish culture would help the rural poor to earn a regular income and thus to remove the evils of poverty. Women entrepreneurs are now aware of the schemes for the promotion of ornamental fish culture in India. Thewomen can play a predominant role in ornamental fish culture. Successful Women could also manage both the household activities and the entrepreneurship together.
8. Young-Jin Park (Korea) described abalone sea cage culture trends and women’s role in the related job sector in the largest abalone growing area of Korea, Wando, Jeonnam Province in the southwestern area of Korea. In order to empower women, information sharing, and a stable living environment, the women asked for the support of the government for the construction of a social infrastructure, such as, women only cultural lectures, community activities, technical training program, child care facilities, pediatrics, entertainment complex etc.
Panel session report
by Dr Jennifer Cobcroft
The panel session commenced with Dr. Bibha Kumari summarizing the earlier presentations, especially for the benefit of those who could not attend the whole session.
A series of questions was asked of the panel members, with a focus on the WAS-APC/AwF travel award winners (Nantaporn Sutthi, Gladys Ludevese Pascual, Mya ZinOo), and then opened for a group discussion with the audience.
1. What do you see as the biggest challenge for women in aquaculture in your country?
Gladys indicated that traditionally women in the Philippines were focused on household tasks, but are more educated now and wanting to get out into the workforce.
Mya Zin discussed education, investment and cultural issues that are barriers to women being involved in aquaculture in Myanmar.
Nantaporn suggested that women in Thailand have more power in business now.
A comment from a male hatchery director from Indonesia was that there are many small hatcheries and the majority of their staff are women, largely because of their valued attention to detail. He noted that working in aquaculture grow out and in the field is problematic as these are both traditionally a “man’s world”.
The group discussed the need for women-oriented equipment to encourage their participation in different sectors. We also noted the need for us as individuals to change our mindset in relation to the role that we as women can play, and the way that we see other women in industry.
Our role is to encourage leadership skills in more women; leading by example and encouraging others.
2. What benefit would arise for the aquaculture industry by changing the situation, and if the challenge for women was overcome?
We noted that women tend to be more creative, and with education can complement the activities of men in aquaculture. The group discussed that through increased participation by women in aquaculture, production volume and efficiency could be increased. This would also improve the security of household and community nutrition. In Myanmar, the opportunity for internships has been provided by the USAID grant, allowing women to engage with industry and better understand opportunities and pathways to employment outside the university sector, which is where they traditionally stay in employment, if they stay in fisheries and aquaculture. Another of the men in the audience indicated that in Western culture, if more women become involved in the industry, they will promote seafood, leading to increased consumption – which is good for community nutrition and seafood sales. The group also discussed the need for a change in mindset of employers, across many cultures and countries, to consider the skills and value that women can bring to the industry. An observation from the Philippines was that about 10 years ago there was a difference in the proportion of women reaching higher management levels, with men and women both represented at middle management, but men being promoted to senior levels even when the women may be more competent. It was considered that this situation has improved, however the ‘glass ceiling’ still exists for many women.
3. What potential solutions do you see to addressing the challenge?
One proposed solution was access to investment funds and bank funding, promoting programs for women. Mobilizing investment through women was considered a likely way to increase aquaculture production.
One participant working with indigenous women in the Northern Territory in Australia asked the group for suggestions on how to encourage a balance for women who may be interested in fisheries and aquaculture. The women have many other cultural roles and they cannot always find time to engage in development programs. She also commented that payment or potential income from a new industry is not a primary motivator, and that cultural roles take precedence. This seems an area needing more discussion and insights from other researchers and development project leaders, specifically around how to find the right projects/opportunities and motivate engagement.
One academic reported on a study of her students over 20 years in the Philippines, and reported that in that time less than 1% of women trained in aquaculture were employed in aquaculture. It was suggested that while the current generation is suffering from differences in early childhood (expectations and roles being different according to gender), that this situation is now improving.
The Panel Discussion was then followed by the presentation of the awards by Mr. R. D. Palmer (AwF):
1. WAS-APC/AwF travel grants for 2 students and 1 senior category. They are Nantaporn Sutthi, Gladys Ludevese Pascual, Mya Zin Oo respectively.
2. AwF for Women of the Month Awardees (see AwF for details)
- Dr Jennifer Cobcroft – December 2014
- Dr T.V. Anna Mercy – February 2015
- May Myat Noe Lwin – March 2015
- Dr. Flower Ezekiel Msuya – April 2015 (Was not present)
- Ass Professor Arlyn Mandas – May 2015
A vote of thanks for all for their contributions was given by Dr. Jin Yeong Kim.
The 34 year old series of FAO-Norwegian fisheries projects based on capacity building and use of the Research Vessel (R/V) Dr Fridtjof Nansen has released the report of its first gender audit. The latest phase of the Nansen work is based on the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF), hence the need to take a much more concerted look at how gender equity figures in its work. It is heartening to see the EAF-Nansen project take this in-depth look at gender.
The report, “Gender Audit and Recommendations for Mainstreaming Gender in the EAF-Nansen Project,” was written by Ceciel Brugere, based on her analyses, surveys and interviews with project partners. It concludes that:
Despite its numerous achievements, the EAF-Nansen project so far has missed opportunities to mainstream a gender perspective in its design and implementation. This is … due in large part to the fact that gender awareness is assumed to exist and gender dimensions taken ‘naturally’ into account, and to the fact that much of the EAF guidance relied upon by the project does not give much prominence to the gender dimensions of fisheries management.
The audit makes 19 fundamental and achievable recommendations, aimed at improving:
- the overall depth of attention given to ‘human’ issues in fisheries management to ensure that gender is included in these, both in capacity development and in the studies underpinning fisheries management, and
- its reporting, monitoring and evaluation.
As part of its data gathering, the audit canvassed country partner views on gender matters, including on how they would like to see gender capacity building delivered at individual and institutional levels, giving good guidance to institutional leaders.
The next steps in how the EAF-Nansen project takes up these challenges will be interesting to follow. Its pre-eminent position in the developing regions in which it works can have wide ranging impact.
The latest issue of Yemaya, the newsletter on gender and fisheries put out three times a year by the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers, is full of interesting and thought-provoking articles, several centered around International Women’s Day and continuing struggles for decent lives and rights around the world.
The whole issue or individual articles may be downloaded.
Table of Contents
- From the Editor
- Long Live Women’s Day by Nilanjana Biswas
- Equal Work, Unequal Pay by Eduardo Ramírez Vera (see also this post on women in Chile))
- Milestones: Women 2000 by Ramya Rajagopalan
- A Right to Fish, A Fight to Live (Sunderabans) by Urvashi Sarkar
- What’s New Webby: The Role of Women in Fisheries (FAO, Susana Siar) by Nilanjana Biswas
- Profile: Farmers without borders Annie Castaldo—Shellfish farmer at the Laguna of Thau, France by Katia Frangoudes
- A Life of Truth and Struggle (Tahira Shah, Pakistan) by Mustafa Gurgaze
- Family Fish Farming, Bolivia (see also this post)
- Yemaya Mama (cartoon for International Women’s Day)
- Yemaya Recommends: Document “42 Portraits of Women Working in the Fisheries and Aquaculture Sectors” (Femmes de Mer 42 Portraits. Un Livre De Michèle Villemur) by Brian O’Riordan
The Ba Women’s Forum, a peak body of 79 women’s groups in the Ba area of Fiji (62 km from Nadi, a tourist center on the main island of Fiji), has gradually been developing its engagement and the identification of opportunities in the pearl culture and marketing sector, with help from an ACIAR project. The latest developments are reported in ACIAR’s Partners magazine. Market analysis has identified significant market potential for pearl jewellery, now largely filled by imports. ACIAR and the Ba Women’s Forum have partnered with designers, technical and market experts to train local women in developing products suited to the market. The initial results are very promising, as the Partner’s article explains.
Read the article here.
The Fish for Life project, initiated by experts from Canada, Brazil and Bolivia, and carried out with families in Yapacani, Bolivia, has succeeded in expanding the farming families’ diversity of food and farming options – previously based on single crop rice farming – by successfully introducing women-led fish farming.
The comprehensive development project, complete with pilot studies to prove up the technical options and then help for local farmers to develop their knowledge and skills, has generated an additional US$15,000 per year per family. Since 2008, before the project, fish consumption has increased from 3.8 kg per year per capita to 5.6 kg per year per capita. This is an area that traditionally eats little fish, despite good water resources and available local species of fish. In the project, a small native fish, sabalo or black prochilodus (Prochilodus nigricans) was added to previous aquaculture attempts using just pacu (Colossoma macropomum).
The women have become majority members of the Yaqcapani Northern Integrated Pisciculture Association – APNI), coming from a former position in which they had little economic recognition to one of leadership in an important new economic activity. Their husbands have gone from scepticism to strong support.
To read more about this interesting success story, click this link from the website of the Canadian International Development Research Centre (IDRC).