Women make the (shell) money but rarely the decisions in fisheries

iifetlogonew1xThe outcomes (see report) of the Special Session and other presentations on gender at IIFET-2016 (International Institute for Fisheries Economics and Trade) showed that gender research is a promising new frontier in fisheries and aquaculture economics. From the household to the value chain, from Malaita in the Solomon Islands where women make the famous shell money sold now in the marketplace to filleting fish in Mexico and global fisheries performance indicator systems, fish sector work, power and decision making is gendered. Unlike factors such as input technology, fisheries management policy and trade subsidies, economists have paid little attention to modelling gender as a factor in fisheries and aquaculture. Sometimes this gap is blamed on missing sex-disaggregated data, and certainly many of the 14 presentations and discussions on gender at IIFET-2016 highlighted that sex-disaggregated data and indicators must be improved.

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L. to R.: Kate Barclay, Shyam Salim and Malasri Khumsri, panelists at the IIFET-2016 Special Session on “Gender Research as a New Frontier in Fisheries and Aquaculture: In the Footsteps of Rosemary Firth.”

But the dearth of gender economics studies in fisheries and aquaculture go well beyond this. The presenters on gender at IIFET-2016 used whatever information they could collect from formal statistical data and their own projects. Experts presented gender analyses of value chains in Africa (Malawi and Nigeria), Asia (Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand), North America (Mexico) and the Pacific (Solomon Islands), and global efforts on fisheries performance indicators and data sets.

The presenters and participants discussed how, in these value chains, women are critical to adding value to fish, although within the household and society, ultimately men still make most of the key household decisions, sometimes despite interventions that seek to empower women. The gender report concludes by making some suggestions to IIFET in its future work on gender in fisheries economics and trade.

Read the overview report of the IIFET gender sessions and presentations here. The report contains links to most of the presentations/papers.

The gender theme was made possible through grants and support from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the USA, the World Bank, IIFET, and all the presenters.

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