Category Archives: Gender and development

From “women do fish” to “women do participate and lead”

Slowly over the last few decades, the number and type of organisations representing the interests of women in fisheries and aquaculture have begun to grow and diversify. Little is written about this welcome growth of activity and so the new FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Circular by Enrique Alonso-Población and Susana Siar (Link) “Women’s participation and leadership in fisherfolk organizations and collective action in fisheries: a review of evidence on enablers, drivers and barriers,” is a very welcome addition to the literature.

The Circular begins with a well considered review of the rationale behind women’s collective action and organisation, and whether and how this might relate to their empowerment. Given the plethora of conceptualisations of empowerment, however, the authors decide not to superimpose any particular version of empowerment on their analysis, but to accept the bottom line that if women are not organised and not participating in the institutions of the sector, then definitely this is a sign of their marginalisation and lack of access to specific resources.

In a historical terms, women’s participation has long been recognised and even celebrated, but the authors document that, for example, although women in the Spanish Galician fisheries have been visible for over 100 years, only in the 1980s did a series of management and political changes begin to professionalise their work and give them actual control over their industry. Hence, the concept of getting beyond the descriptives of “women do fish” and onto “women do participate and lead.”

Using an extensive literature analysis, the authors first delve into the diverse array of institutions that enable and foster women’s participation in collective action and organizations. These range from: government institutions, non-government organisations, development aid and conservation projects, religious organisations, academia, endogenous mobilization among groups of women identifying with their professional work, e.g., the women divers of Japan and Korea, and Norwegian fishermen’s wives, the catalysing drive of individual leaders, and events that created unexpected chances. Particularly welcome is the access the Circular gives to literature in languages other than English, e.g., the Brazilian and other South American examples.

Having explored the diversity of women’s organisations, the authors recognise that the endogeneous and external drivers for organizing can be classified into a few familiar categories, especially: dwindling resources and securing management roles, sectoral modernisation, the imperative to secure fishing rights, economics, the drive to secure family well-being, and the drive for women’s rights.

Despite the positive feel that comes with uncovering such a rich stream of women’s collective action, the authors are firm in their desire not to leave us thinking that the problems are beginning to be solved. Problems range from governments that will not accord women rights to the women’s own individual aims and competitiveness overcoming the benefits of collective action.

Overall, this Circular is highly recommended reading!  Here is the Link.

Alonso-Población, E. and Siar, Susana V. 2018. Women’s participation and leadership in fisherfolk organizations and collective action in fisheries: a review of evidence on enablers, drivers and barriers. FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Circular No. 1159. Rome, FAO.

ABSTRACT: The increased recognition of the multiplicity of roles played by women in, and their crucial the fisheries sector exists in stark contrast with the low presence of women in fisherfolk organizations around the globe, and the lack of access to decision-making positions in many formal fisheries-related organizations. This paper summarizes analyses of a global literature review on women in fisherfolk organizations. The aim of the study was to identify positive examples and lessons learned by pointing to the drivers – as well as the enablers and entities identified in the literature – that have a key role in fostering increased women’s participation and leadership in collective action in fisheries. State institutions, social movements and civil society organizations, development and conservation projects, religious movements, academia, endogenous mobilization, charismatic individuals and coincidences have been identified as the key enablers of women’s participation in collective action. Dwindling resources and the need to secure management roles, modernization, the allocation of fishing rights, economic changes, family welfare and women’s rights, are the main drivers identified by the authors as catalysers of women’s engagement in collective action. Finally, the paper identifies some of the barriers faced by women to gain equal access to organizations and decision-making. Although more research on the topic is required, there seems to be consensus on the positive effects for women arising from their engagement in modes of collective action.

Gender in Aquaculture and Fisheries – Expanding the Horizons

Visit the GAF7 website: http://www.gafconference.org/

Download the GAF7 brochure: Brochure link

Submit your abstracts, session and training workshop proposals by April 30See you at GAF7!

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“Engendering Security in Fisheries and Aquaculture” Special Issue of Asian Fisheries Journal online

Special Issue of Asian Fisheries Science journal, Volume 30S, has just been released online, presenting 25 papers, plus a Guest Editorial and other information based on GAF6 – the 6th Global Symposium on Gender in Aquaculture and Fisheries (2016, Bangkok, India).

The Special Issue is “Engendering Security in Fisheries and Aquaculture.” Dr Nikita Gopal, Chief Guest Editor of the Special Issue, and her co-editors, highlight that, as applied research, “most of the work published represents on-the-ground efforts to empower women and men to improve their livelihoods. These applied studies are complemented by others of a deeper theoretical and more exploratory nature addressing women‟s and men‟s personal perceptions of themselves within the fish sectors.

The papers cover many angles, including the impacts on fishermen’s perceptions of their masculinity under strict new fisheries regulations, women’s and men’s strategies and niches in aquaculture, a large tuna port, following a major land reclamation project, a tsunami and in seaweed production. In exploring the paucity of sex-disaggregated data, aquaculture publishing by women, and women’s needs after disasters, the papers range from global in scope, to the national and local.

Visit this page to gain an overview of the Special Issue and download the whole volume or individual papers. LINK

Congratulations to all the authors!

GAF-India Prizes and Launch of GAF Section at 11IFAF

GAF-India was held in Kochi, Kerala, India from 21-24 November 2017. Previously, the prize winners of the M.C. Nandeesha Photo Competition were announced (link). Now we are happy to announce the student prize winners for GAF-India presentations and posters, and the winner of the first Asian Fisheries Society Indian Branch Prof. M.C. Nandeesha Gender Justice and Equality Award.

See photos and details of all the prize winners here.

Winner of First Prize, Best Student Presentation at GAF-India, B.M.R.L. Basnayake, receiving her prize from Dr J.K. Jena, President of Asian Fisheries Society Indian Branch and Asian Fisheries Society, at the closing ceremony 11IFAF, 24 November 2017, Kochi, India.

BEST STUDENT PRESENTATIONS

1st Prize: B.M.R.L. Basnayake and D..M. De Silva – “Gendered Timeline of the Market Landscape of the Fisheries Industry in Sri Lanka.”

2nd Prize: Asha S. Karunaratne, I.C. Hettiarachchi and D.A.M. De Silva – “Gender Sensitive Value Chain Selection: Fish, Banana and Cinnamon, Which Provide Best Opportunities for Women?”

BEST STUDENT POSTERS

1st Prize: Mrudula, K.M., P.K. Sajeenamol, Jiswin Joseph, M.V. Neelima, Bindu J., S Sreejith, Sajesh, V.K., and Nikita Gopal– “Traditional Fish Recipes of Fisher Households and Their Significance.”

2nd Prize: Manju Lekshmi N., Archana G., Saly N. Thomas and Leela Edwin – “Rural Women Participation in Pre and Post-Harvest Operations of Stakenet (Estuarine Set Bag) along Aroor Fishing Village, Alappuzha, Kerala.”

ASIAN FISHERIES SOCIETY INDIAN BRANCH: PROF. M.C. NANDEESHA GENDER JUSTICE & EQUALITY AWARD 2017

Dr Meryl J Williams, Honorary Life Member, Asian Fisheries Society, “In recognition of her pioneering and sustaining efforts towards drawing international attention and developing impacting interventions in  gender justice and equality in the Asian Aquaculture and Fisheries sector.”

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.

Broadening perspectives on markets, relationships and benefits in seafood trade: The role of Zanzibari women in small-scale fisheries

By Elizabeth Drury O’Neill and Beatrice Crona

E-mail: elizabeth.druryoneill@su.se

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Elizabeth Drury O’Neill conducts interviews at Mkokotoni, Zanzibar. Photo: E.D. O’Neill.

Market structures of small-scale “economically developing” country fisheries (SSF) have remained relatively under-examined in the academic literature and the work done has focused primarily on relations between fishers and traders. However, most studies have focused only on economic transactions and this has likely skewed our understanding of the interactions between people in SSF and the social and ecological outcomes they give rise to.

In an attempt to broaden the understanding of how market structures and trading relations benefit local fishery actors we conducted a study that examined the wider social system in which fish trade is embedded. Many local societies have evolved informal norms based on customs and reciprocities (e.g. gift giving, sharing of large catches) that have become intertwined with fishery trade. These exchanges are necessary for human well-being, providing additional sources of support to resource-poor households, which can be irreplaceable during shocks. The question is if these systems of exchange and benefits serve all equally?

The reef based small-scale fisheries of Unguja Island, Zanzibar are the focus of this study. Located approximately 40 km off mainland Tanzania (5°40′ 6°30′S) Zanzibar has a millennia old history of global trade, including slaves and spices and constitutes the center of the Swahili coast and culture. Like most of the Swahili coastline, it has a population highly dependent on fishing for both livelihoods and nutrition and is surrounded by a coastal environment dominated by coral reef, seagrass, sandy beach and mangrove ecosystems.

Gender emerges as a strong determinant of seafood trade and fishery participation. Men and women fulfill different roles in the Zanzibari fishery system, as seen in many SSF elsewhere. Women are predominately involved as traders rather than fishers, while men dominate resource extraction. Smaller or lower-value products are principally traded in the booming local market, either fresh, fried or dried. A growing export market largely targets small dried pelagics and the tourist industry demands fresh specimens of high-value species.

While tourism is a rapidly expanding market for fishery products, our study saw that women traders remain relatively unlinked to the tourist hotels, resorts and restaurants. They do not access these higher-value links and are largely confined to the lower ends of the value chain income spectrum. The fact that it is deemed inappropriate or unsuitable for a woman in Zanzibar to be linked to the tourism industry is one explanation for this.

Women in the rural sites run largely home-based businesses supplying the local villages with processed products, dried or fried. This is typical of women in many SSF, limited by the time they can devote to work outside the home. Travelling in and out to the central markets in Stone Town is costly both in terms of time and money. Male traders are much more linked to the central markets and have more fish marketing options, including selling from bicycles, to a greater variety of customers in town and to the tourist hotels and restaurants. Men therefore have access to the higher sales prices in Stone Town and at the same time the lower purchase prices at the rural landing sites. When based in the central areas female traders have no space inside the Darajani fish market, which is rented entirely by male retailers, and sell on the ground outside with other smaller-scale male traders. The sales by women traders, in general, are done through on-the-spot transactions rather than with a patron or predetermined customer, a typical informal contract-type relationship in SSF. This patron-client relationship can provide the clients with various credit, loan and support options, though tying them into sales. However, women do not appear to have access to, or use, this option in Unguja. Over half the male traders in the study sell through this method, marketing continuously to the same customer in exchange for support.

zanzibar_mfenisini

Women in fish trading, Mfenisi. Photo: Elizabeth Drury O’Neill.

Seafood trade in Zanzibar, as in other SSF, runs deeper than simple economic arrangements and is embedded in an informal exchange network. Males and females appear to be installed differently into this network, where flows of assistance (i.e. material like food, money, equipment or service support, like processing, transporting, reciprocated between actors) pass between various actors in conjunction with sales. Female traders are less frequently involved in this reciprocal support exchange with fishers than their male counterparts, whom more commonly exchange cash, food, credit and discounts. However, women traders cooperate between themselves over a range of activities, in some sites more than males, which includes buying together, pooling products to sell, lending or borrowing money and selling products on each other’s behalf when necessary.

Women in fishing communities across the world appear to face barriers to higher-rent generating roles in the supply chain due to various cultural obstacles and conflicting household roles. Large-scale economically focused fisheries development has led to an increase in bulk purchases and wholesale trade, the construction of modern landing sites and market complexes, and more standardized formal sales activities in many places. This type of growth unfortunately has the potential to exclude the Zanzibari home-based traders, which it has already done in other SSF.

The role of women in SSF has been largely invisible to most observers and the Zanzibar harvest arena is dominated by men, with few fisherwomen appearing in any official statistics. Despite this, it is becoming increasingly common and acceptable for women to enter fish trade in Zanzibar. More women now trade seafood than ever before. However, the appearance and rise of the tourism sector in the seafood market has indirect effects on their ability to conduct their business. Already in 2002, ActionAid reported that fishermen no longer need to use women traders as much as before, since they now have the option of selling directly to the hotel industry. Our observations support this, with very few female urban traders linked directly to the fishers, buying mainly through auctions. As the tourism industry continues to grow and as fishery development focuses on further capacitating male fishers to go further offshore while promoting greater formalized economic actors in fishing and related activities this study emphasizes the grave potential for many value chain actors, especially female traders, to be vastly overlooked in such development scenarios.

The paper from this study can be found at this link.

Acknowledgments: This study was part of a SIDA funded project (The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency) aimed at understanding the role of middlemen in mediating interactions between the social and ecological components of small-scale fisheries systems. Project Number SWE-2012-104.

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