Category Archives: IDS

Are fisheries activists and researchers afraid of being seen as Feminists?

There were 150 women members from CONAPACH at the International Congress of Women in Artisanal Fisheries held in Valparaiso, Chile from 5-7 June 2013. Photo: Yemaya July 2013, p. 6.

There were 150 women members from CONAPACH at the International Congress
of Women in Artisanal Fisheries held in Valparaiso, Chile from 5-7 June 2013. Photo: Yemaya July 2013, p. 6.

In the July 2013 edition of Yemaya, the gender and fisheries newsletter of the International Collective in Support of Small-scale Fishworkers (ICSF), the Editor, Nilanjana Biswas, pointed out that women fisheries activists were frequently afraid of being branded “feminists” because of the pejorative connotations of the term. And yes, she wrote,  “feminism is the ‘radical notion that women are people’, and so, have equal rights“. [See also our glossary explanation of the origins and use of the term feminism –].

This observation about the resistance to being branded a feminist arose partly as an overall reaction to the challenges facing women in small-scale (and other) fisheries, but also directly from the Yemaya report, by Natalia Tavares de Azevedo and Naina Pierri, on the June 2013 International Congress on Women in Artisanal Fisheries. After this South and Central American event, Natalia and Naina wrote:

A striking point in the discussion was that the fisherwomen from Chile were keen to assert that they are not feminists, suggesting thus that feminism was something negative with which they do not want to be identified. This casting of feminism as reverse sexism, as an idea of “paying back with the same coin” or as putting women in a position of superiority and domination over men is, in our opinion, an unfortunate and common misconception, stemming from the lack of awareness of what feminism really is—the struggle for equal rights and for the end of unequal power relations between the sexes.

To read this and other articles in the July 2013 Yemaya, click here

An early fisheries (aquaculture) gender study that was not afraid to mention the word “feminist” was the Institute for Development Studies paper by Elizabeth Harrisson (1995), called “Fish and Feminists“, that explored the rather early forays into trying to address feminist ideals in fisheries projects. Here is the Summary of that report, which is an essential one to read if you are on the road to discovery in what gender in aquaculture and fisheries entails.

Summary:  Despite apparent acceptance of gender analysis within development organisations, this is still only rarely translated into gender-sensitive practice. The language of gender and development is adopted, but is accompanied by a subtle shift into ‘projects for women’. The article considers the problem through a case study of a programme in one international development organisation – the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). The programme promotes small-scale fish farming in southern Africa, and gender issues have gained a high profile in its stated aims. The case study traces the articulation of gender issues from headquarters to a pilot project in Luapula Province, Zambia.

Download the IDS paper here


Reviewing the Evidence for Links between Gender Equality and Economic Growth

Professor Naila Kabeer. Photo: Arthur, .

Professor Naila Kabeer. Photo: Arthur, .

Naila Kabeer and Luisa Natali recently published a review for the Institute of Development Studies into the two-way relationships between gender equality and economic growth, across sectors and countries. They reviewed studies of labour market participation in different sectors and services, earnings and well-being and rights. Their conclusion is that the relationship between gender equality and economic growth is asymmetric, with gender equality tending to improve economic growth but economic growth not leading to gender equality without concerted efforts on inclusive growth. The review also delves into available evidence for different outcomes in different sectors. Whereas the fishery sector is not touched on, results for agriculture are revealing. such as that greater gender equality in the agricultural labour force contributes to greater economic growth, but this effect does not apply to greater gender equality in agricultural management. Also, economic growth did seem to stimulate female labour force participation for value added industry growth in agriculture (and other sectors). This result certainly resonates with experience in many commodities in fisheries and aquaculture.

The review is called “Gender Equality and Economic Growth: Is there a Win-Win?“, by Naila Kabeer and Luisa Natali, IDS Working Paper 417. (2013)

Read the review and find out more! It can be downloaded at:


To what extent does gender equality contribute to economic growth? And to  what extent does the reverse relationship hold true? There are a growing number of studies exploring these relationships, generally using cross-country regression analysis. They are characterised by varying degrees of methodological rigour to take account of the problems associated with econometric analysis at this highly aggregated level, including the problems of reverse causality. Bearing these problems in mind, a review of this literature suggests that the relationship between gender equality and economic growth is an asymmetrical one. The evidence that gender equality, particularly in education and employment, contributes to economic growth is far more consistent and robust than the relationship that economic growth contributes to gender equality in terms of health, wellbeing and rights. From a growth perspective, therefore, the promotion of certain dimensions of gender equality may appear to offer a win-win solution but from a gender equity perspective, there is no guarantee that growth on its own will address critical dimensions of gender equality. Either growth strategies would need to be reformulated to be more inclusive in their impacts or redistributive measures would need to be put in place to ensure that men and women benefit more equally from growth.

Climate change: consider women’s agency, not just vulnerability

Photo: Nguyen Dang Hao, Vietnam. GAF3 2011

With world attention on climate change, two recent publications on gender and climate change, though not focused on fisheries and aquaculture, deliver a similar message: yes, women and men have different vulnerabilities to climate change, gendered analysis and approaches are needed but women and men’s agency, not just women and men’s vulnerabilities should be considered.

1. BRIDGE Cutting Edge Packs Gender and Climate Change

By Elaine Skinner UK Institute for Development Studies

Summary: Responses to climate change tend to focus on scientific and economic solutions rather than addressing the vitally significant human and gender dimensions. For climate change responses to be effective thinking must move beyond these limited approaches to become people-focused, and focus on the challenges and opportunities that climate change presents in the struggle for gender equality.

“Move beyond simple assumptions about women’s vulnerability to highlight women’s agency in adapting to and mitigating climate change.”

The Overview Report offers a comprehensive gendered analysis of climate change which demystifies many of the complexities in this area and suggests recommendations for researchers, NGOSs and donors as well as policymakers at national and international level. The Supporting Resources Collection (SRC) provides summaries of key texts, conceptual papers, tools, case studies and contacts of organisations in this field, whilst a Gender and Development In Brief newsletter contains three articles including two case studies outlining innovative local led solutions.

Download the Report

2. The Gender and Climate Debate: More of the Same or New Pathways of Thinking and Doing?

by Bernadette P. Resurreccion

Asian Security Initiative Policy Series No. 10. Singapore RSIS Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies (NTS)

Abstract: Feminist and development advocates have recently taken international agreement framers to task for the paucity of gender perspectives when defining climate change agendas, a gap which has led to the emergence of ‘gender and climate change’ discourses. This paper aims to contribute to this growing concern with gender and climate change adaptation by: (i) briefly reviewing international agreements and advocacy literature in order to understand the conceptual antecedents underlying gender and climate change discourses and their respective deficits; and (ii) engaging with past and current theorisations on gender, adaptation and resilience which are relevant to a better understanding of the linkages among gender, climate change adaptation and human security. This paper argues that ‘gender’ and ‘vulnerability’ have to be viewed as complex social and human security processes that defy current simplifications based on fixed and essentialised traits and properties of women that characterised the earlier women, environment and development (WED) discourse. Current gender and climate change discussions often build on this earlier strand. An understanding of the complex linkages and processes of gendering and vulnerability is applied to recent climate change adaptation studies in Cambodia and Vietnam.

The Vietnam study addresses women and men in fish and shrimp farming areas.

Download the report