Category Archives: Advocacy

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.

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.

map image

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:

WSI the new association for women in the seafood industry will be at the Icelandic Fisheries Fair

logo-wsiWSI Press release, Paris, Tuesday 24 January 2017

WSI, an international association for Women in the Seafood Industry was created in December 2016 by specialists at the cross-road between the seafood industry and gender issues. WSI’s goals are to highlight women’s contribution to the seafood industry, to raise awareness of gender issues within this industry and to promote professional equality between men and women.

The motivation to create WSI came from the growing recognition that although one in every two seafood workers is a woman, women are over-represented in lowest paid and lowest valued positions and very few at leadership positions. Women are essential contributors to this important food industry, but they remain invisible, including to policy makers. There is a need to increase awareness about their role in this industry and to recognise the value they bring.

While we acknowledge that much progress has been achieved, a lot remains to be done. Stories about women in the seafood industry are rarely told. WSI will operate as a sounding board to amplify women’s voice and help them gain visibility through practical projects.

WSI has chosen the World Seafood Congress 2017 and the Icelandic Fisheries Fair (10-15 September 2017) to make its first public appearance. “The choice for Iceland is two-fold: its fishing industry is very dynamic and the country is at the forefront when it comes to gender equality. At Icefair, the fisheries fair, WSI will disseminate this uncomplicated yet often untold story: women are essential workers in the seafood industry but they are often invisible.” Explains Marie Christine Monfort, WSI President and co-founder. This will be the very first time that a women’s association holds a stand at a professional fisheries fair.

Come and meet us at Icefair in Hall 1 Stand A70.

WSI, a not for profit association, is founded by Marie Christine Monfort and Pascale Baelde , two seafood professionals (based in France) supported by two gender specialists (based in Singapore and London). This new association has already received the backing of men and women seafood professionals from France, the UK, Norway, Egypt, Australia, United States.

More information is available on www.wsi-asso.org.
Contacts: contact@wsi-asso.org
Président WSI, Marie Christine Monfort Tél : +33 6 3262 2477
Director WSI, Pascale Baelde Tél : +33 6 2431 9515

3rd Anniversary of Dr M.C. Nandeesha

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INSPIRING: M.C. Nandeesha, Dean, Fisheries College and Research Institute, Tuticorin, addressing training session for fish farmers at Palayamkottai. Photo: A. Shaikmohideen, The Hindu, 15 December 2010.

On 27th December 2012, Dr M.C. Nandeesha, who initiated the first efforts to address gender in aquaculture and fisheries in Asia, passed away. We honor his memory and achievements and hope that his legacy will continue to grow through the gender efforts of the Asian Fisheries Society and other professional and grassroots groups.

In collaboration with Dr Nandeesha’s family, we are developing the means of better documenting his many contributions to aquaculture, fisheries institutions, aquaculture education, gender equality, and  rural development.

To read more on Dr Nandeesha, please see our previous tributes. We welcome your contributions.

Going all the way: gender-just food security

Children in Cité Soleil (Haiti) receive meals Photographer: UN Photo/Marco Dormino via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) From the BRIDGE report.

Children in Cité Soleil (Haiti) receive meals
Photographer: UN Photo/Marco Dormino via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) From the BRIDGE report.

Food security is often presented as a gender-neutral problem, but unequal access to food affects women and girls disproportionately and so gender-sensitive solutions are needed. The UK-based BRIDGE gender and development initiative has just released a policy brief and report on gender, food security and nutrition exploring the evidence and providing a new vision of gender-justice with implementing principles. The Gender and Food Security: towards gender-just food and nutrition security draft vision is comprehensive, bringing together elements where their analysis indicates transformation is needed:

Gender-just food and nutrition security means a world without hunger, where women, men, girls and boys have equal access to nutritious, healthy food, and access to the means to produce, sell and purchase food. It is a world where the right to food for all is realised. Importantly it is a world free of gender-based violence, where the roles, responsibilities, opportunities and choices available to women and men – including unpaid caregiving and food provision – are not predetermined at birth but can, where possible, be developed in line with individual capacities and aspirations. Finally, it is a world where countries are equipped to produce enough food for their own populations through environmentally sound processes, while also being able to participate in (gender-) equitable global and regional food trading systems.

In short, the recommended five core principles are:

  1.  A commitment to rights, including the right to adequate food for all
  2. People-centred solutions, giving voice to the women and men who are producing and consuming food.
  3. Gender-transformative solutions, promoting gender justice and women’s empowerment and the transformation of unequal gender power relations, as a route to food and nutrition security and as goals in their own right.
  4. Supporting gender-equitable trade and investment policies that promote the local sustainable production of culturally appropriate food.
  5. Ecologically sustainable solutions that respect local knowledge and rights, moving beyond market-based solutions

The report’s recommendations for translating these principles into practice, paraphrased, are:

  • Strategies and instruments for protecting, recognising and realising rights: Formal legislation provides a vital mechanism for claiming rights to food and resources such as land, but to put these laws into practice, all people – especially women – must be informed about their rights and how to claim them.
  • Gender-aware programming that goes beyond ‘instrumentalising’ women: Move towards more comprehensive, contextualised gender analyses that revolve around understandings of power relations and socio-cultural dynamics, to facilitate the subtle shift in thinking and action. Address the invisible issues of women’s unpaid care work and gender-based violence.
  • Recognise and evaluate the multiple dimensions of women’s empowerment in food security programming: Develop appropriate indicators of empowerment that are more able to capture the quality of women’s lives, including the material, social, cultural and human dimensions.
  • Engage men and boys in promoting gender-just food security: There is a transformative potential of engaging men and boys towards both understanding and challenging gender norms around food and also changing norms and behaviours that may result in violence or prevent men from sharing care responsibilities.
  • Support women’s collective action as a lever of change: Creating and supporting women-only groups of producers can provide a means to strengthen women’s bargaining power in both producing and selling goods, and strengthen women’s empowerment more broadly.
  • Invest in gender-aware agro-ecological approaches as an important means to prioritise women’s existing knowledge and to promote increases in yield with low input and at no cost to the environment.
  • Access to information and appropriate technologies for ensuring improved nutrition outcomes within households and for empowering women through knowledge and tools.
  • More coherent, well-funded gender-aware policies, processes and institutions: Move beyond policy silos towards more connected, multisectoral approaches to ensure that positive, equitable actions in one policy area are not undermined by inequalities created by another. Gender-responsive budgeting.
  • Gender-just governance of food and nutrition security solutions: Address the unacceptable gender imbalance in decision-making around food and nutrition security in policy spaces through targeted strategies that include challenging the ‘deep structures’ of organisations that perpetuate exclusionary practices.

The report and the accompanying policy brief can be downloaded.

Although the BRIDGE report only lightly touches on fisheries and aquaculture, more on the links to gender and food security in the fish sectors can be found in the recent report on fish, food security and nutrition published by the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition. See the HLPE report.

Gender in Fisheries and Aquaculture e-Learning Course

Women sorting seaweed Nhon Hai, Vietnam. Photo: M. Akester.

Women sorting seaweed Nhon Hai, Vietnam. Photo: M. Akester.

The World Bank, IFAD, FAO and the Michigan State University have transformed the 2008 “Gender in Agriculture Sourcebook” into an e-learning course. This includes Module 13 on Gender in Fisheries and Aquaculture.

Module 13 is full of handy material and structured as follows:

Section 1: Gender in Fisheries and Aquaculture
Section 2: Gender Roles, Power, and the Distribution of Profits
Section 3: Gender Planning
Section 4: Benefits from Gender-Responsive Actions
Section 5: Monitoring and Evaluation
Section 6: Thematic Note 1 (Gender responsive institutions for accessing and managing resources)
Section 7: Thematic Note 2 (Family-based systems for aquaculture development in Asia)
Section 8: Thematic Note 3 (Associations for protecting the livelihoods of fishers, processors and traders)
Section 9: Thematic Note 4 (Gender and alternative livelihoods for fishing communities)
Section 10: Innovative Activity Profile 1 (Coral reef rehabilitation and management program)
Section 11: Innovative Activity Profile 2 (CARE Bangladesh: family approaches in integrated aquaculture)
Module 13 Quiz

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 – https://genderaquafish.org/resources-3/glossary-of-terms/].

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