Broadening the perspective of fisheries management by including gender

Selling shell jewellery, Central Markets, Honiara, Solomon Islands 2014. Photo: Kate Barclay

Selling shell jewellery, Central Markets, Honiara, Solomon Islands 2014. Photo: Kate Barclay

The Secretariat for the Pacific Community’s recent regional workshop on the “Future of coastal/inshore fisheries management,”  3 to 6 March 2015 included the role of women (along with youth and culture) in fisheries management as one of the main topics. Other topics included community based resource management, livelihoods and the private sector, and the role of tuna in food security.

Presenter Assoc. Prof. Kate Barclay from the University of Technology Sydney talked about including gender in fisheries management within broader approaches to fisheries management such as the Interactive Governance for Fisheries (see Fish for Life) approach.  She argued that conventional fisheries management has a tunnel vision approach and that addressing the shortcomings of conventional fisheries management involves broadening the perspective of what is involved in resource governance to include social factors, including gender relations. This means fisheries agencies working in collaboration with other government agencies, as well as with various stakeholder groups, to cover the complex social issues affecting fisheries management.

logo_future_fisheriesBroadening the perspective to include gender relations and look at fisheries as social ecological systems means doing things differently. Two examples of changed approaches were presented. Danika Klieber’s work demonstrates that the tunnel vision of conventional fisheries management means renders invisible a significant amount of fishing activity, and shows how enumeration may be done differently to better include women’s fishing. The work by WorldFish in Solomon Islands has involved introducing gender transformative approaches, rethinking how consultation with fishing communities is conducted, and developing new methods to effectively engage with women, elicit their perspectives, and design projects that reflect women’s as well as men’s interests.

 

Kate Barclay’s presentation can be downloaded here.

New rural technologies and gender

Women in Lake Pulicat building crab fattening cages. Photo: Dr. B. Shanthi, CIBA (ICAR), India.

Women in Lake Pulicat building crab fattening cages. Photo: Dr. B. Shanthi, CIBA (ICAR), India.

A tremendous emphasis in agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture research is given to developing new, more efficient and profitable technologies for farmers and fishers.  Governments all around the world support research and extension institutes, and the private sector also has a huge influence. But how are women faring in having a say in what their priorities are and in getting access to the innovations? Most especially in the agriculture sector, a considerable amount of research has gone into evaluating these questions. Catherine Ragasa and Debdatta Sengupta from IFPRI, and Martha Osorio, Nora OurabahHaddad, and Kirsten Mathieson from FAO recently reviewed what has been learned. Their report – Gender-specific approaches, rural institutions and technological innovations: Identifying demand- and supply-side constraints and opportunities in access, adoption and impact of agricultural technological innovations – is well worth reading. It puts together key findings and good recommendations for integrated and stand-alone action. The integrated actions are particularly important as they stitch together the issues of gender and technology needs, its generation, and its dissemination. In the process, they weave together the central importance of gender in the workforces of research and extension institutions.

Here are key messages

  • Female heads of households and plot-managers are less likely to adopt a wide range of agricultural and rural technologies than male heads and plot-managers. The most commonly-cited reasons are greater time and labor constraints; relatively less access to funds and credit; more limited information, education and training; more limited capacity and opportunity for participation in innovation and decision-making processes; and more limited access to accompanying inputs and services. These are influenced by weak legislation that protect rights and promotes equality and by persistent social biases and cultural norms.
  • Although various labor-saving and energy-saving technologies have huge potential, empirical studies show that their use and adoption among rural women is often low and usually much lower than men. Three reasons for gender differences are common: (1) cultural-appropriateness; (2) physical accessibility; and (3) affordability. In some cases, the adoption of improved productivity-enhancing technologies has increased women’s time burdens. The most common reason is the weaker participation and engagement of women farmers and stakeholders than men in priority-setting and research processes, limiting the opportunity to influence the development of new technologies.
  • In ICT, men are more likely to use the Internet and to have an email address than women. There is a more promising pattern of rural women accessing and using radios for agricultural information, although men still are more likely to own and control their use. The gap between men’s and women’s access use of mobile phones is diminishing, although in rural areas, men are more likely to own and have access to phones than women, who have greater levels of illiteracy, cultural barriers, and less available cash and access to credit.
  • There is increasing attention in the literature that women and men farmers are innovators and doing their own farm experimentation. Innovation funds can provide incentives for farm experimentation for women and men. Rural institutions and innovative producer organizations can succeed in using collective action to address access and liquidity and to reduce gender gaps in technology adoption. Farmer-innovators benefit more if they are linked with research and extension institutes, a conducive rural business climate and are linked to lucrative markets.
  • Most support organizations, including research organizations and their staff have weak capacity and incentives to be more effective and responsive to the needs of both women and men farmers. Numerous attempts of participatory and consultative approaches failed to deliver significant broad-based impact on technology adoption and gender-equitable outcomes. But, women are overwhelmingly under-represented as scientists, educators, graduates, managers and extension agents. Initiatives to increase more women graduates, scientists and extension agents are being implemented, but more need to be done.

Recommendations (in summary)

o Strengthening capacity of women and men farmers as innovators, evaluators of technologies, and key partners in innovation processes.

o Build measurable targets and strengthening the monitoring and evaluation to ensure that (1) planning and innovation processes addresses women and men’s needs, preferences and opportunities; (2) women and men can access and use these technologies; and (3) women and men benefit from these technologies.

o Holistic and integrated approach of looking at constraints to production and marketing and paying close attention to the complementarities of inputs and services.

o Promoting equal playing field:  strengthen women’s land, property and water rights. Affirmative action to ensure that more girls are going to school and more women professionals are getting equal opportunities as men in the area of research, extension, and education systems. Quota systems, focal points, and gender-balanced staffing in research, extension and education organizations do not often work without genuine empowerment among women professionals including confidence-building, greater mobility, decreasing time burden, training and capacity strengthening.

o More attention in research to gender-disaggregated data and gender analysis in mainstream research is needed. More studies are needed that provide nuanced categorization and analysis on gender and addresses the diversity and typologies of women and men farmers.

Download the report.

Going all the way: gender-just food security

Children in Cité Soleil (Haiti) receive meals Photographer: UN Photo/Marco Dormino via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) From the BRIDGE report.

Children in Cité Soleil (Haiti) receive meals
Photographer: UN Photo/Marco Dormino via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) From the BRIDGE report.

Food security is often presented as a gender-neutral problem, but unequal access to food affects women and girls disproportionately and so gender-sensitive solutions are needed. The UK-based BRIDGE gender and development initiative has just released a policy brief and report on gender, food security and nutrition exploring the evidence and providing a new vision of gender-justice with implementing principles. The Gender and Food Security: towards gender-just food and nutrition security draft vision is comprehensive, bringing together elements where their analysis indicates transformation is needed:

Gender-just food and nutrition security means a world without hunger, where women, men, girls and boys have equal access to nutritious, healthy food, and access to the means to produce, sell and purchase food. It is a world where the right to food for all is realised. Importantly it is a world free of gender-based violence, where the roles, responsibilities, opportunities and choices available to women and men – including unpaid caregiving and food provision – are not predetermined at birth but can, where possible, be developed in line with individual capacities and aspirations. Finally, it is a world where countries are equipped to produce enough food for their own populations through environmentally sound processes, while also being able to participate in (gender-) equitable global and regional food trading systems.

In short, the recommended five core principles are:

  1.  A commitment to rights, including the right to adequate food for all
  2. People-centred solutions, giving voice to the women and men who are producing and consuming food.
  3. Gender-transformative solutions, promoting gender justice and women’s empowerment and the transformation of unequal gender power relations, as a route to food and nutrition security and as goals in their own right.
  4. Supporting gender-equitable trade and investment policies that promote the local sustainable production of culturally appropriate food.
  5. Ecologically sustainable solutions that respect local knowledge and rights, moving beyond market-based solutions

The report’s recommendations for translating these principles into practice, paraphrased, are:

  • Strategies and instruments for protecting, recognising and realising rights: Formal legislation provides a vital mechanism for claiming rights to food and resources such as land, but to put these laws into practice, all people – especially women – must be informed about their rights and how to claim them.
  • Gender-aware programming that goes beyond ‘instrumentalising’ women: Move towards more comprehensive, contextualised gender analyses that revolve around understandings of power relations and socio-cultural dynamics, to facilitate the subtle shift in thinking and action. Address the invisible issues of women’s unpaid care work and gender-based violence.
  • Recognise and evaluate the multiple dimensions of women’s empowerment in food security programming: Develop appropriate indicators of empowerment that are more able to capture the quality of women’s lives, including the material, social, cultural and human dimensions.
  • Engage men and boys in promoting gender-just food security: There is a transformative potential of engaging men and boys towards both understanding and challenging gender norms around food and also changing norms and behaviours that may result in violence or prevent men from sharing care responsibilities.
  • Support women’s collective action as a lever of change: Creating and supporting women-only groups of producers can provide a means to strengthen women’s bargaining power in both producing and selling goods, and strengthen women’s empowerment more broadly.
  • Invest in gender-aware agro-ecological approaches as an important means to prioritise women’s existing knowledge and to promote increases in yield with low input and at no cost to the environment.
  • Access to information and appropriate technologies for ensuring improved nutrition outcomes within households and for empowering women through knowledge and tools.
  • More coherent, well-funded gender-aware policies, processes and institutions: Move beyond policy silos towards more connected, multisectoral approaches to ensure that positive, equitable actions in one policy area are not undermined by inequalities created by another. Gender-responsive budgeting.
  • Gender-just governance of food and nutrition security solutions: Address the unacceptable gender imbalance in decision-making around food and nutrition security in policy spaces through targeted strategies that include challenging the ‘deep structures’ of organisations that perpetuate exclusionary practices.

The report and the accompanying policy brief can be downloaded.

Although the BRIDGE report only lightly touches on fisheries and aquaculture, more on the links to gender and food security in the fish sectors can be found in the recent report on fish, food security and nutrition published by the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition. See the HLPE report.

All welcome to Gender & Aquaculture Seminar: Bangkok 24-25 Feb 2015

Woman tilapia cage culture farmer feeding her fish, Sakhon Nakhon, northeast Thailand. Photo: Kanit Naksung

Woman tilapia cage culture farmer feeding her fish, Sakhon Nakhon, northeast Thailand. Photo: Kanit Naksung

Gender and Aquaculture Seminar: Equity and Regional Empowerment in the Aquaculture Value Chain on 24-25 February 2015, Bangkok, Thailand The USAID Maximizing Agricultural Revenue through Knowledge, Enterprise Development, and Trade Project and the Network for Aquaculture Centres in Asia (NACA) are hosting a Gender and Aquaculture Seminar:  Equity and Regional Empowerment in the Aquaculture Value Chain on February 24-25 in Bangkok, Thailand. The USAID Maximizing Agricultural Revenue through Knowledge, Enterprise Development, and Trade Project and the Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia (NACA) have undertaken a year-long research project on women’s roles and influence on selected aquaculture value chains in four countries in Southeast Asia. The goal of the research was to raise awareness and increase recognition of gender roles, policies and programs in the aquaculture industry in ASEAN in order to support more sustainable and responsible development. The findings and recommendations outlined in the Thematic Studies of Gender in Aquaculture in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam will be presented at the workshop.  This is an opportunity for public and private sector stakeholders to share their current activities that support equity and empowerment in the value chain. NACA will also launch a Regional Network for Gender and Aquaculture Practitioners.  The Network will raise awareness of constraints and promote policy recommendations and best practices to employers, donors and governments. Please contact Gladys Villacorta at gvillacorta@nathaninc.com for additional information or to register for the event.  Spaces are limited to register soon!

GAF5 Photos available on our Flickr group

A set of GAF5 photos are now available on our Flickr group: https://www.flickr.com/groups/genderaquafish/

Check them out! They include group photos, presenters photos, people asking questions, participants in working groups, ceremony, prize winners, etc etc..

The photos are courtesy of our hosts in India, the National Bureau of Fish Genetics Resources. Thank you!

The influence of exisiting gender and labor patterns on women’s participation in the Island of Chiloé salmon industry, Chile

Chilote women selling home-made empanadas, including those containing salmon, Chiloe Island, Chile. Photo: Latin Chattin http://latinchattin.com/2013/06/05/chiloe-exploring-chiles-largest-island/

Chilote women selling home-made empanadas, including those containing salmon, Chiloe Island, Chile. Photo: Kate Stevenson and Daniel Poulter, Latin Chattin http://latinchattin.com/2013/06/05/chiloe-exploring-chiles-largest-island/

Rapid economic development in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors often relies heavily on local or migrant women workers entering the paid workforce. This has been the case on the Island of Chiloé in southern Chile, one of the areas of intense growth of salmon aquaculture and salmon processing for export.  In their recent paper in the journal World Development, Eduardo Ramírez and Ruerd Ruben examined the pre-existing gender patterns that led to a fast uptake by women of paid employment in the salmon industry.  The area went from a lower than national average rate of women in the workforce in 1996 (26.6% in Chiloé compared to 36.6% nationally) to, in 2009, a higher than national average in (48% vs 43%).

The paper, “Gender Systems and Women’s Labor Force Participation in the Salmon Industry in Chiloé,” reported statistical evidence that women whose husbands previously migrated seasonally for several months, leaving them to do productive “men’s work” such as farming, as well as reproductive work, were more likely to take up paid work than other women. The women whose previous productive work was more conceived locally as “women’s work,” were less likely to take up the new paid work. These more traditional areas of women’s work were shellfish and seaweed harvesting and crafts.

Despite the ingress of women into the paid workforce, however, a gender pay gap still exists, even after adjusting for types of work undertaken by women and men.

Ramírez and Ruben suggest that more studies should look at the effects of territory-specific or local gender systems should be carefully examined and taken into account in labor policies, rather than assuming national heterogeneity.

Download the paper or contact the author, e-mail: eramirez@rimisp.org

To learn more of the background of Chiloe Island and the salmon industry, try these links:

Hayward, P. 2011, ‘Salmon aquaculture, cuisine and cultural disruption in Chiloe’, Locale: The Australasian-Pacific Journal of Regional Food Studies, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 87-110.

Pablo Ibieta, et al. 2011. Chilean Salmon Farming on the Horizon of Sustainability: Review of the Development of a Highly Intensive Production, the ISA Crisis and Implemented Actions to Reconstruct a More Sustainable Aquaculture Industry, Aquaculture and the Environment – A Shared Destiny, Dr. Barbara Sladonja (Ed.). Available from: http://www.intechopen.com/books/aquaculture-and-the-environment-a-shared-destiny/chilean-salmon-farming-on-the-horizon-of-sustainability-review-of-the-development-of-a-highly-intens

Stevenson, K. and D. Poulter. 2013. Chiloe – Exploring Chile’s largest Island. http://latinchattin.com/2013/06/05/chiloe-exploring-chiles-largest-island/

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.