Category Archives: research

A gendered approach to nutrition-sensitive homestead pond polyculture

By Sarah Castine and Shakuntala Thilsted

Left: Women preparing mola (Amblypharyngodon
mola). Right: pool barb or jat punti (Puntius sophore) showing nuptial coloration during spawning time. Photos: Shakuntala Thilsted.

A recent paper: “Homestead pond polyculture can improve access to nutritious small fish” published in the journal Food Security1 investigates an aquaculture production system in Bangladesh which is tailored towards improving nutrition and is accessible to and can be managed by women.

In Bangladesh, and many parts of rural south Asia, women’s movements outside the homestead are restricted and they spend much time at home taking care of children and other family members, food preparation and other household chores. Access to nutritious foods in these households can be limited, resulting in poor diets and little dietary diversity which can contribute to undernutrition. A nutrition-sensitive approach to homestead pond polyculture, engaging both women and men has been introduced by WorldFish and partners. This includes polyculture of small and large fish species in homestead ponds, vegetable production in homestead gardens and on pond dykes, nutrition education and gender equity, in terms of work load and food distribution. This approach allows for increased household income from sale of produce as well as increased access to and intake of nutrient-rich small fish and vegetables, with focus on women and children in the first 1,000 days of life.

Different modes and methods were applied in order to engage both female and male household members. Women and men, in groups of 20-25 received training in fish and vegetable production, nutrition and gender equity. Lead farmers, both women and men conducted training and supported the households in the activities. In some cases, women were specifically trained in harvesting small amounts of small fish for household consumption and in preparing dishes with nutrient-rich small fish for young children.

The paper describes that homestead pond polyculture, with small and large fish, using a nutrition-sensitive approach can have outstanding nutrition and health benefits, especially for women and young children. For adoption of the nutrition-sensitive pond polyculture approach, engaging all household members and providing both women-only training and combined women and men training should be applied. Women were engaged in pond polyculture, spending up to 25 minutes per day on tasks such as fish feeding, pond preparation and maintenance. Lead female farmers described that their physical mobility in the community gave them a better status and a feeling of being valued. An analysis of the dynamics and power relations between women and men with regard to work load and income earned from nutrition-sensitive pond polyculture is needed to gauge how this approach impacts women’s status within the household and in the community. Strong partnerships with the nutrition and health sector, government organisations and the private sector will ensure quality training of household members and wide dissemination of this aquaculture production system.

  1. Castine, Sarah A., Jessica R. Bogard, Benoy K. Barman, Manjurul Karim, Md. Mokarrom Hossain, Mrityunjoy Kunda, A. B. M. Mahfuzul Haque, Michael J. Phillips and Shakuntala H. Thilsted. 2017. Homestead pond polyculture can improve access to nutritious small fish. Food Security 9:785–801.

 

Contributions by women in the fisheries of five major fishing countries

Women shrimp traders in Mazatlan, Mexico. Photo: Maria Cruz-Torres

A recent paper published in Coastal Management (Contributions by Women to Fisheries Economies: Insights from Five Maritime Countries) investigates the contribution by women to fisheries economies in Mexico, Peru, Senegal, South Africa, and Vietnam.

Through an exhaustive review of data and literature on women and fisheries, the authors of this paper, Sarah Harper, Charlotte Grubb, Margot Stiles, and Rashid Sumaila, take stock of what is known about women in the fisheries sector of these five countries. From the available information, women appear to make substantial contributions to the fisheries sector and related economy; however, these contributions are not always visible in an economic accounting or policy sense. For example, indirect participation in all five countries was mainly measured by statistics for processing and retail activities, as little information was available for the many other activities of women that support fishing households, e.g., book keeping, gear repairs, and provisioning for fishing trips.

The paper highlights major gaps in the availability of sex-disaggregated data on participation in fishing activities through the fish value chain and suggests the need for improved national-level data collection for the development of gender-sensitive fisheries policies and programs.

Download the paper : link (Institutional access may be required; lead author’s e-mail: sjmharper@gmail.com )

See other media related to article:

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.

GAF6: Registration

1444189934_inland10Registration is still open for the 11th Asian Fisheries and Aquaculture Forum (11AFAF), to be held in Bangkok, Thailand from 3-7 August 2016. During this Forum, the 6th Global Symposium on Gender in Aquaculture and Fisheries (GAF6) will be held.

If you haven’t already registered for GAF6 (through the main 11AFAF website) then do so here – 11AFAF.

Taking advantage of the location of 11AFAF and the lead partners, the overall theme is: ASEAN Seafood for the World & Asian Food Security for the World.

GAF6 themes can be found here

New working group “Gendered Seas“ studies the role of women in fisheries over time

Kathleen_Schwerdtner-Manez_100px (1)By Kathleen Schwerdtner Mánez

As part of the European project Oceans Past Platform, a new working group on gender and fisheries history has been established. See our video introduction on Youtube.

Gendered Seas will explore the different roles and responsibilities of women and men in the exploitation and management of living marine resources over time. As most research in fisheries history has turned a blind eye on women, our working group fills a major gap in the understanding of fisheries systems and their development. Watch the video to find out more about our us, or contact me directly: kathleen.schwerdtner(at) zmt-bremen.de

How to Mainstream Gender in Small Scale Fisheries: Lessons from Experience

Learning better household budgeting, Cambodia. Photo: RFLP

Learning better household budgeting, Cambodia. Photo: RFLP

The FAO-Spain Regional Fisheries Livelihoods Programme for South and Southeast Asia has taken their more formal gender materials (especially the RFLP gender mainstreaming manual) and their on the ground experience and produced this attractive, easy to read and yet very rich guide to what to do.

Get the guide here: Download

The clear lessons from experience include:

1. Don’t get lost in translation (of technical gender terms)

2. Think gender from the start

3. Study first, then decide

4. Consider quotas for women’s participation

5. Take the time and effort (and get the men involved)

6. Consider participation of women in traditional ‘men’s’ activities

7. Beware the double burden

8. Be flexible (make training convenient for women)

9. Get the right support

10. Alternative fisheries livelihoods are often women’s livelihoods

11. Collect gender-disaggregated data

12. Spread the good word