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

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.

“Engendering Security in Fisheries and Aquaculture” Special Issue of Asian Fisheries Journal online

Special Issue of Asian Fisheries Science journal, Volume 30S, has just been released online, presenting 25 papers, plus a Guest Editorial and other information based on GAF6 – the 6th Global Symposium on Gender in Aquaculture and Fisheries (2016, Bangkok, India).

The Special Issue is “Engendering Security in Fisheries and Aquaculture.” Dr Nikita Gopal, Chief Guest Editor of the Special Issue, and her co-editors, highlight that, as applied research, “most of the work published represents on-the-ground efforts to empower women and men to improve their livelihoods. These applied studies are complemented by others of a deeper theoretical and more exploratory nature addressing women‟s and men‟s personal perceptions of themselves within the fish sectors.

The papers cover many angles, including the impacts on fishermen’s perceptions of their masculinity under strict new fisheries regulations, women’s and men’s strategies and niches in aquaculture, a large tuna port, following a major land reclamation project, a tsunami and in seaweed production. In exploring the paucity of sex-disaggregated data, aquaculture publishing by women, and women’s needs after disasters, the papers range from global in scope, to the national and local.

Visit this page to gain an overview of the Special Issue and download the whole volume or individual papers. LINK

Congratulations to all the authors!

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

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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.