Category Archives: disaster responses

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

The Long Journey to Equality

Women weighing riverine fish catch, India. Photo: Lalit Tyagi.

Women weighing riverine fish catch, India. Photo: Lalit Tyagi.

We see some greater commitment to gender equality in policies and by institutions, but the position of women in mainstream and traditional value chains is still eroding despite new technologies accessible to women and new development approaches.

This was the conclusion of the full report of GAF5, the 5th Global Symposium on Gender in Aquaculture and Fisheries. Based on presentations and discussions, the report explores five themes: (1) greater policy and institutional commitment to gender equality; (2) the eroding position of women in aquaculture and fisheries; (3) new technologies for women and new gender equality approaches; (4) diagnosing diversity and enabling action; and (5) GAF101, networks and GAF information.

Read the full report.

Asian Fisheries Science publishes Special Issue of GAF4 papers

A fishing family in the Pichavaram mangroves, Tamil Nadu, India, taking part in a gendered ecological economics  study by Piyashi DebRoy and colleagues. Photo: Piyashi DebRoy.

A fishing family in the Pichavaram mangroves, Tamil Nadu, India, taking part in a gendered ecological economics study by Piyashi DebRoy and colleagues. Photo: Piyashi DebRoy.

Charting the progress on gender equality in aquaculture and fisheries, this Asian Fisheries Science journal Special Issue gives a reasonably upbeat assessment, despite the huge challenges, especially for women.

Based on the 2013 4th Global Symposium on Gender in Aquaculture and Fisheries (GAF4), Dr Nikita Gopal, the chief Guest Editor, said that “gender is now more firmly on some key policy agendas, is embedded in certain major normative international documents, such as the Small Scale Fisheries Guidelines, and is receiving early institutional, policy and donor support. Attention is also being given to methodological and methods development as more practitioners engage in gender work.” The Guest Editorial, however, points out that gender will not be fully integrated into programs and institutions until agencies face up to implementation challenges such as lack of leadership and resources, and the fish sector recognizes the worth of engendering fisheries. Dr Gopal pointed out that “the current position is still much better than when researchers and activists were still struggling to get gender on the agenda, which was the assessment by experts after the 2011 GAF3 Symposium.”

The Special Issue containing GAF4 papers can be downloaded for free , in total or by individual papers. Click here for the links.

Is Climate Change Debate Re-cycling Past Women-Environment Narratives?

Bernadette Resurreccion of the Asian institute of Technology recently examined whether we are experiencing a return to the old narratives regarding women and the environment. In her paper, “Persistent women and environment linkages in climate changeand sustainable development agendas“, she found evidence that  advocates, researchers and development practitioners are resorting to simplistic and potentially distorting narratives that women are more in tune with the natural world and are greater victims than men of environmental damage. Dr Resurreccion comprehends the temptations of using these challenged narratives as entry points to advocacy but warns against this expediency because much more nuanced actions and interventions will be needed than the often-simplistic ones suggested by the narratives.

The paper can be downloaded here.

S y n o p s i s

Since the 1980s, the discourse that women are intrinsically closer to nature, are hardest hit by environmental degradation, and have special knowledge of natural resource systems has influenced development policy circles and intervention programmes globally. Despite criticism being levelled time and again at the discourse’s potential risk of passing on the burden of environmental care onto women while letting men off the hook, the argument still holds strong sway in current climate change debates. Women are once again being singled out
as climate victims and ‘powerful agents of change, as they are seen to lead early warning systems and identify water supplies that have saved climate change affected communities’. The paper explores why and how women–environment linkages remain seductive and influential, and forwards three arguments for this: first, for gender to muster entry into climate politics, women’s identities are projected as fixed, centred, and uniform — and tied to nature; second, the discourse of climate change vulnerability has proven to be a strategic entry point for feminist advocacy; and finally, inertia associated with past environmental projects has reinstated the women–environment discourse in contemporary climate change discussions and possibly, future interventions.

GAF4 Spotlight was on Gender and Change

The full report, program and all slide presentations from the 4th Global Symposium on Gender in Aquaculture and Fisheries are NOW ONLINE!

Fishery changes shift working spaces, create and destroy jobs and bring overlaps in women’s and men’s roles. 

At the end of GAF4, student volunteers and Piyashi DebRoy (winner of GAF4 AquaFish CRSP Best Student Paper award congratulate all GAF4 participatns.

Congratulations to GAF4 participants from our student volunteers from Chonnam National University, Moon Eun-Ji (left) and Bak So-Hyeon (right), and Piyashi DebRoy (center and winner of GAF4 AquaFish CRSP Best Student Paper award) .

“Gender and fisheries studies, therefore, are increasingly addressing these changes and how women and men were affected by them,” said Dr Nikita Gopal who led the Program Committee that organized this highly energetic and successful event.  GAF4 also continued to fill out the global picture showing that women and gender issues are still not properly understood in the fisheries sector.”

Feedback declared GAF4 the most successful and highest quality of the 6 women in fisheries/gender in aquaculture and fisheries events held by the Asian Fisheries Society over the last 15 years.

On Genderaquafish.org you will find:

UPV Women’s Day Forum highlights practical risk reduction

Dr Remedios I. Rikken, Chairperson, Philippine Commission on Women

Disaster risk reduction and good governance were the topics highlighted at the Women’s Day Forum held at UP Visayas on March 9, 2012, Iloilo City campus.

The Chairperson of the Philippine Commission on Women, Ms. Remedios I. Rikken, delivered the keynote address in response to this year’s theme: “Women Weathering Climate Change: Governance and Accountability, Everyone’s Responsibility.”

Speaking to a full audience at the auditorium consisting of those coming from the academe, LGUs, NGOs, POs, government agencies and the media, Rikken’s extensive talk covered reducing disaster risks, management plan, governance, and command system.