Category Archives: FAO, UN Women, World Bank, IFAD, UNIDO and other multilateral

A welcome new FAO gender Handbook to support the Small Scale Fisheries Guidelines

A very welcome addition to the technical support for the implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication – a handbook –  has just been released by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).  Called “Towards gender-equitable small-scale fisheries governance and development“, the handbook written by Nilanjana Biswas, of the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF), is a treasure trove of essential background knowledge on women, gender and small-scale fisheries, combined with practical advice and case examples on incorporating gender equality principles in small scale fisheries work. The target audience is broad – from government officers to fishers and their communities, fish worker groups and researchers, as befits a product of the very participatory development process the Handbook team took.

The Handbook is organised in 3 parts:

  • Part 1: Understanding gender and the role of women in small-scale fisheries
  • Part 2: Responsible fisheries and sustainable development through a gender lens
  • Part 3: Ensuring an enabling environment for gender equality and supporting implementation

Among the rich and varied advice and explanatory boxes are such gems as a guide to tried and tested FAO methods for assessing post-harvest losses, and disaster response and rehabilitation issues to target to help women. Throughout, the Handbook has action points for policy-makers and for community service organisations, offering a few key tips on each subject.

A particular highlight is the set of case studies, each containing a description of the case, followed by a gender-sensitive “Let’s analyse this…” section that gets to the heart of the gender issues.

Here is the list of Case Studies:

  1. Women in fishing communities on Lake Victoria
  2. Tenure rights of traditional fishing communities in Raigad, India
  3. Recognition of indigenous community-owned land in Nicaragua
  4. War-affected women in the fishing villages of the Mannar Coast,
    Sri Lanka
  5. Self-regulation by women harvesters in the Gulf of Mannar, India
  6. Mandira Marine Extractive Region, Sao Paulo, Brazil
  7. Transboundary issues and fishers – learning from India and Sri Lanka
  8. Transboundary issues and fishers – learning from the European Union
  9. Diversifying livelihoods for small-scale fishing communities in Uganda
  10. Pacific Fishing Company on Levuka Island, Fiji
  11. Migrant Chinese women workers employed in oyster shucking in Japan
  12. Growing violence and abuse in small-scale fisheries in South Africa
  13. Reclaiming the Marol fish market in Mumbai, India
  14. Impact of harbour fishing on fish trade in Kerala, India
  15. Impact of competition along Lake Victoria in Kenya and on inland
    fisheries in Zambia
  16. Impact of industrialization on women in small-scale post-harvest
    fisheries in South Africa
  17. Issues of cross-border trade for traditional women fish vendors in
    Cambodia
  18. The risks of neglecting women in policy implementation
  19. Post-tsunami rehabilitation in Aceh, Indonesia
  20. Impact of mine pollution in Buyat Bay, Indonesia
  21. Matsyafed in Kerala, India – an apex cooperative for small-scale fisheries
  22. Impact of seasonal fishing ban on women fish traders in
    Puducherry, India
  23. Marshall Point, a coastal indigenous fishing/farming community in
    Nicaragua
  24. Women fishers fight corruption in the Sunderbans, India
  25. An example of value chain analysis (VCA) (in Malawi)
  26. Public hearing on issues of women in the fish trade in Kerala, India
  27. Enabling women’s participation in meetings in Kigombe, the United
    Republic of Tanzania
  28. Fisherwomen in Brazil organize for their rights
  29. Regional Fisheries Livelihood Programme for South and Southeast
    Asia (RFLP)
  30. Mainstreaming gender in the BOBLME project

Download the full Handbook at this LINK.

Mapping the action on International Women’s Day ’17

Map showing the locations (mainly at country resolution level) for events and news about women in aquaculture, fisheries and seafood in honor of International Women’s Day 2017. If you have more events from 8 March 2017 to put on this map, please let us know at: e-mail genderaquafish@gmail.com.

IWD-17-image-1

Click this LINK to view the interactive version of of the above map, created with eSpatial mapping software.

Before, during and after 8 March 2017 (International Women’s Day), news, tweets and posts flooded in relating to the Day. Our group shared these events via two roundup messages. We have now put the events onto the map above, using eSpatial mapping software, and generous assistance from Ciara at eSpatial (thank you Ciara!).

To read the details of any event, click on the marker for it. We have placed the event marker on the country (sometimes city or state) where the event happened, although many have global or regional significance.

This seemed to be the most active IWD ever from a fisheries, aquaculture and seafood industry perspective. Let’s hope it is a sign of an active and fruitful year ahead for gender equality in the sector!

First UNEP report on Gender and the Environment

2016-ggeoThe United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has released the 2016 Global Gender and Environment Outlook report.

This first ever such report uses a drivers-pressures-states-impacts-responses approach to summarise available information and make an attempt to address four policy questions:

  • What social forces are producing the changes seen in  the environment, and are they gender-dependent?
  • What are the large-scale consequences of ongoing environmental changes for social systems and human security, and are these consequences gender-differentiated?
  • What do future projections and outlooks look like, are they gender-differentiated, and will there be different outcomes for women and men?
  • What actions could be taken for a more sustainable future that would position women and men as equal agents in taking such actions, and which socio-economic factors could shape different outcomes and responses for women and men?

The introductory section -“The gender-environment nexus: Towards more equitable and inclusive forms of sustainability” – presents interesting material on why the report is needed in the face of economic growth and its impacts on the environment and natural resources, many of which are gendered. A brief history of the environmental feminist movement is covered, from the publication of Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” to recent local-led conservation initiatives. The report was made possible and encouraged by a gradual infiltration of gender equality articles in major global environment, development and climate instruments and pledges. It stresses the still under-representation of women in environment positions of power and calls for much better collection of sex-disaggregated information. The priority areas identified miss reference to those in fisheries and aquaculture, focusing instead on agriculture, land, water and climate change. This reflects the lack of substantive work done in the aquatic resources, but also to some extent the incompleteness of the Outlook report on aquatic resource themes.

One of the sections of the Outlook report covers marine and coastal communities and ecosystems, looking at “what we take out”: fish, fishing and livelihoods, and “what we put in”: contaminants and pollutants. Although this section is not particularly current, comprehensive or, in some cases, nuanced, in its drafting, it does provide useful material and it is valuable to have the Outlook report recognize the marine part of the aquatic realm, even if this is not reflected in the opening essay. Here are the Key Messages highlighted in the this part of the report:

  • Women and men have common but differentiated responsibilities in the fishing sector. Fishing is frequently portrayed as a male domain, but when the whole fishing cycle is taken into account, actually some 47% of the workforce is female.
  • Fishing both reflects and defines gender boundaries; men are conventionally defined as “fishers”, while women’s activities in the sector are too often overlooked in official programmes, data collection and support.
  • Environmental change and damage to marine systems have gendered impacts, and women and men experience climate disruptions differently. Climate change is especially threatening to coastal communities and fishing livelihoods. “Downstream” effects on fishing sector activities such as post-harvest work are often not taken into account.
  • Health impacts are gender-differentiated. For example, many marine contaminants are particularly dangerous for foetal development. Chemical contaminants in ocean systems bioaccumulate, threatening human health and the health of marine organisms.
  • As fisheries collapse globally and fish become scarce locally, many women have to turn to transactional sex to bridge the scarcity gap.
  • Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing relies on trafficked, indentured and slave labour, mostly by men.
  • Evidence suggests that fisheries management improves when women are actively involved.

The report can be downloaded at this link.

FAO: Promoting women’s empowerment in fisheries and aquaculture

2016-fao-gaf-a-i6623e-2

Woman sorting the catch at the dock in Muscat. Photo: FAO

By Jennifer Gee, Fisheries and Aquaculture Department, FAO

FAO has released a publication, Promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment in fisheries and aquaculture”, prepared jointly by the Social Policies and Rural Institutions Division and the Fisheries Department within FAO.

The publication provides an overview of current gender equality and women’s empowerment issues in the fisheries and aquaculture sector are presents them alongside information on policy, institutions and planning processes; statistical dimensions in gender analysis; and specific concerns in the sectors. Lessons learned are identified and some case studies presented. The publication was not intended to make an exhaustive analysis of the subject, but rather to suggest some relevant approaches to offer continuity with the work that has been conducted over the years on women’s crucial role in sustainable fisheries and aquaculture development.

The document concludes with a section on the way forward that address the macro, meso and micro-levels with a call that “Human dimensions must be considered in all formal fisheries regulations, policies and plans, and the gender perspective must be included in fisheries and aquaculture activities and development strategies.” Looking ahead it suggests that the relationships between women and men’s role and relationships within the sector must be further investigated and highlights the ongoing need to improve sex-disaggregated statistics.

The publication is currently available in English (link) and will be released in Spanish and French in early 2017.

Mrs Usha becomes a community leader through aquaculture

Mrs M Usha (center) weighing crabs for market. Photo: Dr B. Shanthi, CIBA, India.

Mrs M Usha (center) weighing crabs for market. Photo: Dr B. Shanthi, CIBA, India.

Mrs. M. Usha belongs to the Indian Scheduled Irular tribal community. She lives in the remote area of Kulathumedu, a Scheduled Tribal village, Palaverkadu (Pulicat) Post, Ponneri Taluk, Tiruvallur dt.,Tamil Nadu, South India.

Reaching her farming site is quiet tedious. Either you need to trek to these remote villages or go in by boat. When the lake becomes dry during the summer season, you need to walk in through slushy waters to reach the ponds.

Irular tribal people are fishers and crab collectors. They fish in Lake Pulicat as well as in the adjacent sea. During the lean fishing season, their income is affected and they are compelled to look for alternative incomes. Thanks to a collaboration with scientists from the Central Institute for brackishwater Aquaculture, they are now able to consider alternative livelihoods through brackishwater aquaculture technologies like mud crab farming, seabass nursery rearing in hapas and polyculture farming of crab and seabass in a scientific way in the tide fed and community brackishwater ponds in Mrs Usha’s village.

Mrs. M. Usha has developed strong expertise in these brackishwater aquaculture technologies. Utilizing the common brackishwater resources and inputs within her village she has adopted all these technologies and has facilitated the tribal families in her village to take up alternative livelihoods for additional income during the lean fishing season.

An in-depth case study was conducted by Dr. B. Shanthi, Principal Scientist, Social Sciences Division, ICAR- Central Institute of Brackish Water Aquaculture, (CIBA, Chennai). On the basis of her study, Dr Shanthi found Mrs. M. Usha to be versatile and self-confident, have good leadership qualities, be a good motivator, and always fast to grasp new ideas. She has led 150 tribal people, both women and men in families, of this village to adopt polyculture farming of crab and seabass in the community ponds. A Women’s Self Help Group (WSHGs) named ‘Marikolunthu’ adopted crab farming in tide fed pond and Asian seabass nursery rearing in hapas.

The brackishwater aquaculture carried out by Mrs. M. Usha and other tribal families have enhanced the group’s savings. From the profit, they grew their bank accounts and reinvested this in farming. Mrs Usha communicated with others in the self-help group and strengthened internal lending among the group members. Polyculture farming has helped Mrs. Usha and other Irular tribal beneficiaries learn a new occupation for the lean fishing season. The developments also provided demonstration and leadership leading to impact among other tribal families who have slowly started adopting the technologies by investing money from their own their savings.

In the village social taboos prevailed, such as that women should not walk in front of men when the men are returning from fishing because this would lead to poor sales that day. In addition, women should not go outside their village to participate in meetings and events, and should not talk out in front of men. After the technical interventions, the tribal men became more aware of the inequalities and gave more power to the women. Actually, the women in the village overcame the taboos and beliefs when they started going outside their villages to do crab marketing. Mrs. Usha contributed her part to this empowerment.

Noticing the interest of Mrs. M. Usha and her tribal WSHGs, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) assisted the Post -Tsunami Sustainable Livelihoods Programme (PTSLP) in Tamil Nadu. Mrs. M. Usha and her groups received funds and subsidy of Rs. 1 – 3 lakhs (I lakh is 100,000) per each group to assist them adopt crab farming. For their work, Mrs. Usha and her SHG group in Kulathumedu village were subsequently awarded the “Best WSHG of Tiruvallur District”.

In addition on the technology front, these were the first tribal families in India to take up the tedious and risky task of rearing Asian sea bass in nursery hapas in brackishwater ponds and creeks. Farm made feeds developed by Mrs. Usha and her groups gave helped nourish the seabass fingerlings.

Mrs. Usha has enhanced her knowledge and skills through training on mud crab aquaculture from the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Aquaculture (a Society under the Indian Marine Products Export Development Authority) and, from CIBA, on fish sampling, packing of seabass fingerlings for marketing and record & account keeping.

The enterprise has developed a systematic marketing strategy that has helped the villagers learn the modern crab marketing. Mrs Usha has her own style in establishing rapport among the tribal families, WSHGs and crab marketing agents. She gains their confidence to stock water (post-moult) crabs for farming in pond and seabass fry in hapas and then to supply the harvested crabs and seabass fingerlings to the retailers and marketing agents. She has helped transfer this approach to other tribal coastal families and WSHGs.

She has strived hard to bring in a diversification of livelihoods among the tribal families by making them understand that they need an alternative livelihood to earn an additional income apart from fishing to improve their standard of living. Every day she walks 4 kms in the water-logged land to reach her work spot. She along with other tribal family members in the village devotes most of her time to improving their farming enterprises.

The adoption spread from, at first, two WSHGs and three families, and later others came forward. At present in the village, 20 families farm 20 crab ponds and 12 SGHs practice crab farming in tide fed ponds. Seeing the success, a total of 150 irular tribal families both men (82) and women (65) including new 5 WSHGs came forward with a new proposal of polyculture trials.

Mrs. M. Usha receiving the award from Hon’ble Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare of India Shri. Radha Mohan Singh and the Hon’ble Minister of State for Agriculture and Food Processing Industries of India Dr. Sanjeev Kumar Balyan. Photo: ICAR

Mrs. M. Usha receiving the award from Hon’ble Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare of India Shri. Radha Mohan Singh and the Hon’ble Minister of State for Agriculture and Food Processing Industries of India Dr. Sanjeev Kumar Balyan. Photo: ICAR

HONOUR RECEIVED
For all her contribution to her society in the adoption of brackishwater aquaculture technologies, Mrs Usha was selected for the “ICAR – INDIAN AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE – IARI Innovative Farmers Award”- 2016 of India. She received this award from the Hon’ble Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare of India Shri. Radha Mohan Singh and the Hon’ble Minister of State for Agriculture and Food Processing Industries of India Dr. Sanjeev Kumar Balyan. Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi, inaugurated this Mela during the KRISHI UNNATI MELA 2016, 19-21 March 2016 held at New Delhi.

Acknowledgement: Drawn from material prepared by Dr B. Shanthi, Central Institute for Brackishwater Aquaculture, Chennai, India.

Fishing out the Invisible

Women collecting oysters cultivated in the Qualidia Lagoon, Morocco. Photo: Giuseppe Bizzari, FAO.

Women collecting oysters cultivated in the Qualidia Lagoon, Morocco. Photo: Giuseppe Bizzari, FAO.

In the August 2015 issue of Samudra Report, the journal of the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers, Marie Christine Monfort describes her expedition to “fish out” what was happening for women in the fish sector. She also provides an abridged version of the recent Globefish Report, “The Role of Women in the Seafood Industry” (see our story) that was the result of her fishing expedition.

The Samudra Report article, “Fishing out the Invisible“, provides a good account of the search for facts on women’s roles and contributions, and their status in fisheries and aquaculture supply chains. It also reports on recent activities to address gender in the sector, including the work of the Asian Fisheries Society group that produces this website. Most seriously, given the economic factors that drive the fish sector and the importance of the private sector, Marie Christine could not find one private sector initiative on women’s empowerment or a corporate program that was directed at helping women.

Read the Samudra Report article here.

1-2-3: Counting the ways women access fish

Women fish processors in Sokone, Senegal. Photo: Robert Lee, FAO.

Women fish processors in Sokone, Senegal. Photo: Robert Lee, FAO.

In a recent FAO report (A Review of Women’s Access to Fish in Small Scale Fisheries), Angela Lentisco and Robert Lee have gone beyond the typical portrayal of women as fish processors and marketers have reviewed and categorized three main ways in which women access fish in small scale fisheries. First is primary access through fishing and financing/owning fishing operations; second is through close personal relationships including family; and third is through the normal purchases. By conceptualising women’s access in this more structured way, policy and action to assist women’s empowerment and equality in fish value chains can be better formulated. Angela and Robert first explored this approach in their paper resulting from their paper at the 4th Global Symposium on Gender in Aquaculture and Fisheries (GAF4) – read their earlier paper here.

The report, FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Circular 1098 can be downloaded at this link.

Abstract: Women play a critical role in every link of the value chain in small-scale fisheries, although their best-known roles are in processing and marketing of fish and other fishery products. This perception of the highly gender-segregated division of labour (men fishing / women processing) has shaped the generalized approach in supporting development initiatives for small-scale fisheries. More often than not, this approach targets men as fishers, and women as processors and marketers of fishery products. However, this generalization has also made fisheries governance blind to women’s other valuable inputs to the sector. In fact, their roles can and should go beyond postharvest and marketing. However, the lack of utilization of their additional contribution has deterred, for example, women’s participation in fisheries resource management and policy decision-making.

The present review aims to move policy attention beyond the generalized, and perhaps limited, perception of women as fish processors and marketers and in this way enhance their participation in fisheries resource management and decision-making. The study describes the different ways women have access to fish in small-scale fisheries: as primary users (when they fish by themselves or they finance fishery operations), secondary users (when they access fish through kinship or other close relationships), and tertiary users (when they use capital to buy fish directly from fishers or traders). The review provides case studies to illustrate some of the issues that tend to keep women in marginalized positions along the value chain. Factors and processes that can contribute to improve women’s participation and decision-making in small-scale fisheries, such as those that challenge conventional approaches based on traditional or “typical” gender roles and obsolete institutional arrangements, are also given. The document also discusses how participation can be improved by raising awareness on gender equality issues along the value chain through applying a gender lens, by providing appropriate support to women’s organizations, including formal recognition of their professional activities, by understanding the socioeconomic context and the particular needs of small-scale fisheries, by giving due attention to power and power relationships, and by taking greater account of the contribution of women in fisheries. As neither women nor men form homogenous groups, the challenge is even greater for women to have access to productive tools and services, which if secured can give them a greater say and control over fisheries resources, thereby increasing their social capital and financial capital. These reflections can be introduced in existing resource management arrangements such as co-management or community based management, and can probably empower women and improve their participation in fishery resource management decision-making.

The reflections in this review can and should be used as guidance and discussion material to develop interventions under the Global Assistance Programme in support of the implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication.