Category Archives: Climate Change

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.

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.

Learning from forestry and landuse: Good practices for women’s inclusion

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In 2013, a group of organisation, led by WOCAN (Women Organizing for Change in Agriculture and Natural Resource Management) produced a very useful distillation of good practices for including women in key climate change mitigation programs, especially REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation). Most of the good advice in the “Scoping study of good practices for strengthening women’s inclusion in forest and other natural resource management sectors,” however, is applicable to other sectors, including fisheries and aquaculture.

In producing the report, WOCAN was joined by the United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in developing countries (UN-REDD) Programme, and the USAID-funded Lowering Emissions in Asia’s Forests (LEAF) program.

Download the report at this Link

The key good practices discussed are organised as follows:

1. Ensuring Women’s Representation and Participation
2. Facilitation and Capacity Building for Women’s Participation
3. Skill Building
4. Gender-Disaggregated Analysis and Planning to Meet Women’s Livelihood Needs
5. Labour-Saving and Time-Reducing Technologies
6. Women-Only Groups
7. Women’s Networks and Federations
8. Presence of Gender Champions and Women Leaders
9. Equitable Benefit Sharing Mechanisms
10. Enterprise Development and Credit Provision

Women disadvantaged by how fisheries are structured

The September 2016 issue of Yemaya (Issue 52), the gender and fisheries newsletter of the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF) is full of articles that explore the structural inequalities affecting women in fisheries and aquaculture. This is recommended reading!

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GAF6 Group Photo, 4 August 2016, Bangkok. Yemaya 52 includes a report of GAF6.

Contents (below) and link to Issue 52

  • Gathering cooperation (Costa Rica mollusk gatherers) by Aracelly Jimenez and colleagues
  • Milestones (highlights the new document “ICSF’s Journey with Women in Fisheries”) by Ramya Rajagopalan
  • Fighting invisibility (Brazil’s women on their rights to social security and decent work) by Beatriz Ferrari
  • What a woman! (women are the new “watermen” in Chesapeake Bay, USA) by Mariette Correa
  • Profile of Mercy Wasai Mghanga (Kenyan woman fishworker leader) by Hadley B. Becha
  • Nurturing the eel (inland fisheries management in the Netherlands) by Cornelie Quist
  • Gender inequality: GAF6 asks ‘WHY?’ by Meryl Williams and colleagues
  • The climate for change! (gender discussions at FishAdapt conference) by Meryl Williams and Angela Lentisco
  • Q & A (Interview with Cao Thi Thien, Chairwoman of Hoang Phong Commune
    Women’s Union, Vietnam) by Nguyen Thu Trang
  • Yemaya Mama (The fish value chain cartoon)
  • Yemaya Recommends: El Rol De La Mujer En La Pesca Y La Acuicultura En Chile, Colombia, Paraguay Y Perú Integración, Sistematización Y Análisis De Estudios Nacionales Informe Final = rreview by Vivienne Solis

How are women faring in the Abrolhos Islands rock lobster fishery?

The fishers' words

The fishers’ words

The scientists' words

The scientists’ words

In 2000, the Western Australian rock lobster (Panulirus cygnus) fishery was the world’s first fishery certified by the Marine Stewardship Council. Since then, however, the stock has had shocks from climate shifts. The fishing communities that harvest it, especially on the remote Abrolhos Islands, have been affected both by the climate impacts and the social impacts of new management measures. In their paper, “Climate change and social impacts: women’s perspectives from a fishing community in Western Australia,” Jenny Shaw, Laura Stocker and Leonie Noble take a close look at the women’s sides of events.

Their studies are imbued with the insights of the authors from their long work in and associations with the communities, e.g., Leonie Noble has lived and fished with her husband on the Abrolhos for more than 30 years and is current President of the Australian Women’s Industry Network Seafood Community (WINSC).

ppt_9 (1)When the rock lobster larval recruitment declined dramatically in 2006, fishery management, which had become inclusive and consultative of community and women’s needs in prior years, switched to a more interventionist and top-down form, excluding women and community. The number of fishers was halved, and an output (quota) control system shifted the fishing patterns from a short season within which all fished and the Islands had a strong seasonal community, to a year round arrangement in which fishers only visit occasionally. The community, built and nurtured especially by the women, has been broken as a result of this management change. The families have relocated to the mainland, husbands often work second jobs also away from home, e.g., in mining, and social problems caused by the new stresses are growing.

Jenny Shaw and her co-authors argue that a different management arrangement could have avoided this total loss of community and identity, and would have been possible with community consultations, especially involving the women who were so committed. They also see this explicit example as yet another case in which, although lip service is paid to taking the full value chain of fisheries into account, the reality ignored the most vital social parts – women and community.

Jenny Shaw and her colleagues also won awards for their museum exhibition based on this research – follow this link to read about the exhibition.

To download the paper, click here

Abstract

A cascade of climate and environmental changes, government intervention and economic responses has led to major social impacts on the Western Australian fishing community of the Abrolhos Islands. In 2006, a significant decline in the number of settling lobster larvae was met with major changes to the management of the fishery. The decline in larval settlement appears to be climate driven. Stocks were protected by reducing the overall catch, but these measures also led to a decrease in the number of fishers operating in the fishery. The management changes have resulted in the decline of this well-established fishing community. From the perspectives of fishing women, this paper explores the tension between the contribution that women make to fishing and their well-documented ‘invisibility’ in this industry. The authors suggest that the lack of management focus on social outcomes and subsequent community impacts are related to the invisibility of women in the fishing industry.

Efforts to ensure that gender is included in the new climate agreement

Fishing family recovering from typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), Philippines. Photo: M. Sumagaysay.

Fishing family recovering from typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), Philippines. Photo: M. Sumagaysay.

COP20, the UN climate conference is now underway in Lima, Peru (20th session of the Conference of the Parties and the 10th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol). Concerted efforts are being made to engender the new climate agreement that the countries are negotiating, informed and influenced by numerous non-government groups.

The 9th December was Gender Day at COP20. Gender issues were recognized in a series of papers, none unfortunately addressing the aquaculture and fisheries sectors, in the UN magazine, Outreach. Nevertheless, the set of papers is a good outline of the history so far of how gender is and is not incorporated and makes a strong case for much more systematic incorporation of gender into climate policies and actions on the ground.

Contents (download pdf of whole report here).

1. Time to act: Let’s make this the century of women’s empowerment and rights
2. Gender and climate change: Shoehorned or real?
3. Gender equality in a new climate agreement 4 The silent sufferers of climate change
5. Measuring, reporting and verification for women’s empowerment: The W+ Standard
6. All India Women’s Conference’s initiatives at national level to abate climate change
7. Connecting the dots: Relating forests and food to women’s empowerment and community resilience at the COP20 negotiations
8. Gender in the climate negotiations – moving from a side issue to a common thread