Category Archives: Americas

From “women do fish” to “women do participate and lead”

Slowly over the last few decades, the number and type of organisations representing the interests of women in fisheries and aquaculture have begun to grow and diversify. Little is written about this welcome growth of activity and so the new FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Circular by Enrique Alonso-Población and Susana Siar (Link) “Women’s participation and leadership in fisherfolk organizations and collective action in fisheries: a review of evidence on enablers, drivers and barriers,” is a very welcome addition to the literature.

The Circular begins with a well considered review of the rationale behind women’s collective action and organisation, and whether and how this might relate to their empowerment. Given the plethora of conceptualisations of empowerment, however, the authors decide not to superimpose any particular version of empowerment on their analysis, but to accept the bottom line that if women are not organised and not participating in the institutions of the sector, then definitely this is a sign of their marginalisation and lack of access to specific resources.

In a historical terms, women’s participation has long been recognised and even celebrated, but the authors document that, for example, although women in the Spanish Galician fisheries have been visible for over 100 years, only in the 1980s did a series of management and political changes begin to professionalise their work and give them actual control over their industry. Hence, the concept of getting beyond the descriptives of “women do fish” and onto “women do participate and lead.”

Using an extensive literature analysis, the authors first delve into the diverse array of institutions that enable and foster women’s participation in collective action and organizations. These range from: government institutions, non-government organisations, development aid and conservation projects, religious organisations, academia, endogenous mobilization among groups of women identifying with their professional work, e.g., the women divers of Japan and Korea, and Norwegian fishermen’s wives, the catalysing drive of individual leaders, and events that created unexpected chances. Particularly welcome is the access the Circular gives to literature in languages other than English, e.g., the Brazilian and other South American examples.

Having explored the diversity of women’s organisations, the authors recognise that the endogeneous and external drivers for organizing can be classified into a few familiar categories, especially: dwindling resources and securing management roles, sectoral modernisation, the imperative to secure fishing rights, economics, the drive to secure family well-being, and the drive for women’s rights.

Despite the positive feel that comes with uncovering such a rich stream of women’s collective action, the authors are firm in their desire not to leave us thinking that the problems are beginning to be solved. Problems range from governments that will not accord women rights to the women’s own individual aims and competitiveness overcoming the benefits of collective action.

Overall, this Circular is highly recommended reading!  Here is the Link.

Alonso-Población, E. and Siar, Susana V. 2018. Women’s participation and leadership in fisherfolk organizations and collective action in fisheries: a review of evidence on enablers, drivers and barriers. FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Circular No. 1159. Rome, FAO.

ABSTRACT: The increased recognition of the multiplicity of roles played by women in, and their crucial the fisheries sector exists in stark contrast with the low presence of women in fisherfolk organizations around the globe, and the lack of access to decision-making positions in many formal fisheries-related organizations. This paper summarizes analyses of a global literature review on women in fisherfolk organizations. The aim of the study was to identify positive examples and lessons learned by pointing to the drivers – as well as the enablers and entities identified in the literature – that have a key role in fostering increased women’s participation and leadership in collective action in fisheries. State institutions, social movements and civil society organizations, development and conservation projects, religious movements, academia, endogenous mobilization, charismatic individuals and coincidences have been identified as the key enablers of women’s participation in collective action. Dwindling resources and the need to secure management roles, modernization, the allocation of fishing rights, economic changes, family welfare and women’s rights, are the main drivers identified by the authors as catalysers of women’s engagement in collective action. Finally, the paper identifies some of the barriers faced by women to gain equal access to organizations and decision-making. Although more research on the topic is required, there seems to be consensus on the positive effects for women arising from their engagement in modes of collective action.

Report from the Thematic Symposium on Gender and Fisheries @ World Women’s Congress

From left to right: Cibele Silveira; Adriana Eidt; Adriana Abreu; Luceni Hellebrandt; Maria
Aparecida Souza Couto; Maria Helena Santana Cruz; Suzana Mary de Andrade
Nunes; Melina Chiba Galvão; Maria do Rosário de Fátima Andrade Leitão; Ivan
Costa Lima; Suelen Ribeiro de Souza; Estêfano Ribeiro; Carmen Pedroza.

On 1 August, at the 13th World Women’s Congress, held in Florianopolis, Brazil, Maria do Rosário de Fátima Andrade Leitão and Maria Helena Santana Cruz coordinated the Gender and Fisheries Thematic Symposium. Researchers at the Symposium  presented studies about Brazilian women in fishery activities, plus a  contribution on women in fisheries in Mexico. The report of the Symposium (LINK), includes the abstracts of each presentation. Thanks to Luceni  Hellebrandt for the report.

The thematic Symposium was entitled: Transformations, connections, displacements of feminism regarding sex, work, educational formation and traditional communities (fisherwomen, fishermen, “quilombola” and indigenous communities, and family farmers), and was coordinated by Maria do Rosário de Fátima Andrade Leitão (Universidade Federal Rural de Pernambuco), Maria Helena Santana Cruz (Universidade Federal de Sergipe).

The presentations were:

  • Ma. del Carmen Pedroza Gutiérrez (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) Women’s contribution and struggle in inland and marine fisheries in Mexico
  • Joao Luis Joventino do Nascimento (Estudante), Ivan Costa Lima (Universidade da Integração Internacional da Lusofonia Afro-Brasileira) Na pesca e na luta: mulheres pescadoras quilombolas do mangue do Cumbe contra as injustiças ambientais [In fishing and fighting: Cumbe mangrove quilombola women against environmental injustices]
  • Adriana Guimarães Abreu (Universidade Federal do Pará), Edna Ferreira Alencar (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris 3) Environment, periods and locations of gender in pirarucus managed fishing: an analysis of the construction process of the Jaruá fisheries agreement / Mamirauá-AM Sustainable development reserve
  • Melina Chiba Galvão (Instituto Federal de Santa Catarina (IFSC)) Livelihoods Adaptive strategies and the roles of women in an artisanal fishing socioecological system in southern Brazil
  • Luceni Medeiros Hellebrandt (Universidade Estadual do Norte Fluminense Darcy Ribeiro) Contributions from Women of Z3 experiences to the Gender and Fisheries field of study
  • Antônia Mara Raposo Diógenes (Universidade Federal do Amazonas), Christiane Perira Rodrigues (ISNTITUTO FEDERAL DE EDUCAÇÃO , CIENCIA E TECNOLOGIA DO AMAZONAS), Elenise Faria Scherer (Universidade Federal do Amazonas) The shrimp fishers in Parintins-AM: work and way of life in the Amazonian fishing environment
  • Suelen Ribeiro de Souza (Universidade Estadual Norte Fluminense Darcy Ribeiro – UENF), Marcelo Carlos Gantos (UENF), Silvia Alicia Martínez (Universidade Estadual do Norte Fluminense) Fishing women: an analysis of bibliographic productions about gender relations in the universe of craft fishing

The last time a gender and fisheries session was held at a World Women’s Congress was in 2011, with the  “Why the Coast Matters to Women” session.

Securing women’s fishing rights: a look at 5 South American coastal communities

Map of 5 sites

Country sites for the rights based management study. Source: Williams et al 2017 NAAFE presentation.

Rights1,2 and rights-based management (RBM) 3 have long been fundamental concepts examined in theory and practice in the search for sustainable and socially just fisheries management. However, few studies have engaged this discourse on the practical issue of women’s rights in fisheries. One exception is a study presented at the North American Association for Fisheries (NAFFE) conference in March 2017, by Jordan Williams and colleagues of the Environmental Defense Fund. Using the Small-Scale Fisheries Guidelines as their basis for action, they posed the research question “How can rights-based management secure the livelihoods and rights of women, and help to support gender equity in coastal fishing communities?” In their presentation (Abstract below),  they first diagnosed the current situation of women’s engagement in fisheries (commercial, subsistence and post-harvest activities), women’s influence in decision-making., and their current fishing rights.  The work was done at 5 sites in 4 countries (Belize, Chile, Cuba and Mexico). Based on the diagnosis of the present situation, the study will be examining how better data and a sharp gender lens on the systems of rights based management and decision-making can help secure women’s rights and tenure in the fisheries. The study is still a work in progress.

Securing women’s rights and livelihoods” Authors: Jordan Williams; Alexis Rife; Sarah Smith, PhD, NAAFE Forum 2017: Designing rights-based management systems to achieve social objectives in fisheries.

Abstract: The UN Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Small-scale Fisheries, along with the Voluntary Guidelines for Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries, and Forests, recognize the role of secure tenure in ensuring the livelihoods, well-being, and basic human rights of small-scale fishing (SSF) communities. Rights-based management (RBM), which works to secure tenure rights, can therefore serve as a useful tool in upholding the rights of all SSF participants. Globally, women in SSF communities have increasingly been recognized for their contributions, not just as wives of fishermen, but as seafood processors, traders, retailers, and in some cases, fishers themselves. However, traditional societal rules and expectations have, in many cases, come to marginalize women, leaving them out of decision-making and limiting their access to resources. Recognizing and incorporating gender-specific roles and access needs can be built into the design process of RBM systems in order to secure women’s tenure rights and meet social goals around food security, livelihoods, and protection of economic security and social welfare. Designing gender-responsive management strategies requires localized knowledge about the contributions and concerns of women throughout the value chain; this project identifies the role that women play in several SSF communities where the EDF is working to establish sustainable fisheries management through secure tenure. Utilizing this robust information, we can develop gender-responsive RBM strategies that not only support the economic and biological viability of fisheries, but aim to meet common social goals within these communities and ensure equitable access to resources and representation, regardless of gender.

  1. Gordon HS. The economic theory of a common property resource: the fishery.
    Journal of Political Economy 1954;62:124–42.
  2. Scott A. The fishery: the objectives of sole ownership. Journal of Political
    Economy 1955;63:116–54.
  3. Allison, E.H., Ratner, B.D., Åsgård, B., Willmann, R., Pomeroy, R. and Kurien, J., 2012. Rights‐based fisheries governance: from fishing rights to human rights. Fish and Fisheries, 13(1), pp.14-29.

Videos capture women in action in the seafood sector

The results of the Women in Seafood video competition are now out and all the videos can be viewed through this WSI website link.

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Click this link to go to the interactive map and open the videos. The videos are interesting, often inspiring, and all are short and to the point, ranging from 2 to 5 minutes.

Congratulations to the competition winner Carmen Pedroza-Gutiérrez for her video, “The Women of Petatán,” a very thoughtful set of interviews with women fish filleters as they worked on processing piles of fish to prepare them for the market. The video was made in Petatán , Michoacán, Mexico.

Other videos were:

Women’s voices, gender equity champions and a gender lens all matter – converging messages from GAF6

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A Thai woman gets ready to process threadfin salmon for the market. Photo: Supaporn Anuchiracheeva, the Small-scale Fishers and Organic Fisheries Products Project.

In bold outline, the take home messages from the GAF6 full report – Engendering Security in Fisheries and Aquaculture – converge on the following: women’s voices and gender equity champions  can make a real difference; and a gender lens lets us see inequalities and how to remedy them. These points were woven through the 68 rich and varied presentations, panels, posters and workshops of GAF6. Read the full report here, see the take home messages below.

  • Participants were urged to focus on gender relationships, not simply roles, and on intersectionality, as women’s and men’s lives were interconnected and gender interacted with other systems in society, e.g., cultural, political and economic structures.
  • The 2014 Small-Scale Fisheries Voluntary Guidelines are opening up new policy space on gender equality. Yet, in implementing the Guidelines, women have been deterred from taking part in decision-making, are invisible in most fisheries statistics and their interests excluded from national policies – unless NGOs and women’s groups have advocated for inclusion. Even when women’s needs are recognized, money and expertise may not have been allocated. In a hopeful sign, some recent projects are committed to gender equality.
  • Aquaculture is gendered. Gender roles and relationships in aquaculture follow typical social patterns of ownership, rights and power. Unless they break out as entrepreneurs, women are positioned in small-scale, near-home, and low technology aquaculture, or as low-paid labour in medium and industrial scale operations. Nevertheless, small-scale household aquaculture can fulfill important subsistence roles and be improved to better satisfy food security and nutrition.
  • A persistent thread on fair livelihoods in fish value chains was that gender equality and equity must be fought for, and protected by active measures, rather than expecting it to happen through a sense of natural justice.
  • Using a gender lens brings deeper understanding of climate and disaster adaptation. Flexibility, versatility and agency are keys to people’s resilience. Gender-blind efforts to help people adapt should always be challenged.
  • Real progress in securing gender equality will not be achieved unless social norms are transformed.

Read the whole GAF6 report here – Link

Economics, trade analysis of fish value chains lacking good gender information

The 2016 conference of the International Institute for Fisheries Economics and Trade addressed how to incorporate the gender dimension into fish value chain analysis, especially when very limited gender information is available. The report of the gender sessions are now online.

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Woman at Tambak Lorok, Central Jawa, Indonesia, brings two yellowfin tuna ashore. Photo: Zahrah Izzaturrahim.

The 14 presentations and discussions on gender at IIFET-2016 highlighted that sex-disaggregated data and indicators must be improved. Using whatever information they could collect, 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 more the full report on the gender papers at IIFET-2016 here.

Yemaya releases 50th issue

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Women filleting in Petatán, Mexico. The sight of women filleting alone or in groups in their courtyards is a common one. Photo. Carmen Pedroza-Gutiérrez, in Yemaya 50, “Empowerment through filletting.”

Yemaya, the gender and fisheries newsletter of the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF) has published its 50th newsletter. As usual, Yemaya is an excellent read from its varied and thoughtful articles, to the wry Yemaya Mama cartoons, to reviews and news.

The contents in this December 2015 edition are:

  1. Editorial by Nilanjana Biswas
  2. Analysis: Trade. “Women in today’s fisheries economy” by Meryl Williams
  3. Asia: Sri Lanka. “Widows’ struggles in post-war Sri Lanka” by Cornelie Quist
  4. What’s new Webby? Gendered Seas
  5. Africa: South Africa. “The long road to freedom” by Sharon Groenmeyer
  6. Regional: Africa. “Women in fisheries in Africa” by Serge Raemaekers & Jackie Sunde
  7. Through the years with Yemaya Mama
  8. Asia: India “Hard days and nights” by Ellen Thorell
  9. Profile. “Defending a way of life” by Sara García, Fisherwoman from Costa Rica
  10. Regional: Central America. “Women in Central America’s fisheries” by Vivienne Solis Rivera
  11. Regional: Asia. “Half the fishers in the world” by Nikita Gopal
  12. Milestones by Ramya Rajagopalan
  13. Latin America: Mexico. “Empowerment through filleting” by Carmen Pedroza-Gutiérrez
  14. Q&A. Interview of Kholiswa Fosana, Eastern Cape, South Africa, by Jackie Sunde
  15. Yemaya Mama cops out of COP21
  16. Book Review. “Our Mother Ocean: Enclosure, Commons,
    and the Global Fishermen’s Movement” by Mariarosa Dalla Costa and Monica Chilese. Review by Nilanjana Biswas