Category Archives: Gender in the workplace

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

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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

Still few women leaders in 100 top seafood companies

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Shrimp processing in Bangladesh. Worldwide, women are the most common workers on the factory floor, but in top seafood companies are rare on company boards and in senior management.  Photo: M. Nuruzzaman, Bangladesh.

Women may be numerous on the factory floors of top seafood producers but, at the top of the companies, their numbers are small. Marie-Christine Monfort, a seafood industry insider herself, conducted a follow-up survey to track changes since she authored an earlier report for FAO (see our previous post). The recent study found that the number of women in senior leadership positions shifted little between 2014 and 2016.

Some quick facts from the latest study:

  • Only one company (Marusen Chiyoda Suisan, Japan) is headed by a woman
  • Nearly half the companies for which details are available (38 of 71) have no women on their boards
  • Noway (31%) and China (20%) companies have the highest percentage of women board members, and Chile and Japan the lowest (2%), followed closely by UK (4%)
  • The average percent of women on boards in all the top companies surveyed is 9.1%

The report recommends that the time has come for the sector to encourage more women in top ranks and give them more of a say in decision-making.

The report can be downloaded here.

New rural technologies and gender

Women in Lake Pulicat building crab fattening cages. Photo: Dr. B. Shanthi, CIBA (ICAR), India.

Women in Lake Pulicat building crab fattening cages. Photo: Dr. B. Shanthi, CIBA (ICAR), India.

A tremendous emphasis in agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture research is given to developing new, more efficient and profitable technologies for farmers and fishers.  Governments all around the world support research and extension institutes, and the private sector also has a huge influence. But how are women faring in having a say in what their priorities are and in getting access to the innovations? Most especially in the agriculture sector, a considerable amount of research has gone into evaluating these questions. Catherine Ragasa and Debdatta Sengupta from IFPRI, and Martha Osorio, Nora OurabahHaddad, and Kirsten Mathieson from FAO recently reviewed what has been learned. Their report – Gender-specific approaches, rural institutions and technological innovations: Identifying demand- and supply-side constraints and opportunities in access, adoption and impact of agricultural technological innovations – is well worth reading. It puts together key findings and good recommendations for integrated and stand-alone action. The integrated actions are particularly important as they stitch together the issues of gender and technology needs, its generation, and its dissemination. In the process, they weave together the central importance of gender in the workforces of research and extension institutions.

Here are key messages

  • Female heads of households and plot-managers are less likely to adopt a wide range of agricultural and rural technologies than male heads and plot-managers. The most commonly-cited reasons are greater time and labor constraints; relatively less access to funds and credit; more limited information, education and training; more limited capacity and opportunity for participation in innovation and decision-making processes; and more limited access to accompanying inputs and services. These are influenced by weak legislation that protect rights and promotes equality and by persistent social biases and cultural norms.
  • Although various labor-saving and energy-saving technologies have huge potential, empirical studies show that their use and adoption among rural women is often low and usually much lower than men. Three reasons for gender differences are common: (1) cultural-appropriateness; (2) physical accessibility; and (3) affordability. In some cases, the adoption of improved productivity-enhancing technologies has increased women’s time burdens. The most common reason is the weaker participation and engagement of women farmers and stakeholders than men in priority-setting and research processes, limiting the opportunity to influence the development of new technologies.
  • In ICT, men are more likely to use the Internet and to have an email address than women. There is a more promising pattern of rural women accessing and using radios for agricultural information, although men still are more likely to own and control their use. The gap between men’s and women’s access use of mobile phones is diminishing, although in rural areas, men are more likely to own and have access to phones than women, who have greater levels of illiteracy, cultural barriers, and less available cash and access to credit.
  • There is increasing attention in the literature that women and men farmers are innovators and doing their own farm experimentation. Innovation funds can provide incentives for farm experimentation for women and men. Rural institutions and innovative producer organizations can succeed in using collective action to address access and liquidity and to reduce gender gaps in technology adoption. Farmer-innovators benefit more if they are linked with research and extension institutes, a conducive rural business climate and are linked to lucrative markets.
  • Most support organizations, including research organizations and their staff have weak capacity and incentives to be more effective and responsive to the needs of both women and men farmers. Numerous attempts of participatory and consultative approaches failed to deliver significant broad-based impact on technology adoption and gender-equitable outcomes. But, women are overwhelmingly under-represented as scientists, educators, graduates, managers and extension agents. Initiatives to increase more women graduates, scientists and extension agents are being implemented, but more need to be done.

Recommendations (in summary)

o Strengthening capacity of women and men farmers as innovators, evaluators of technologies, and key partners in innovation processes.

o Build measurable targets and strengthening the monitoring and evaluation to ensure that (1) planning and innovation processes addresses women and men’s needs, preferences and opportunities; (2) women and men can access and use these technologies; and (3) women and men benefit from these technologies.

o Holistic and integrated approach of looking at constraints to production and marketing and paying close attention to the complementarities of inputs and services.

o Promoting equal playing field:  strengthen women’s land, property and water rights. Affirmative action to ensure that more girls are going to school and more women professionals are getting equal opportunities as men in the area of research, extension, and education systems. Quota systems, focal points, and gender-balanced staffing in research, extension and education organizations do not often work without genuine empowerment among women professionals including confidence-building, greater mobility, decreasing time burden, training and capacity strengthening.

o More attention in research to gender-disaggregated data and gender analysis in mainstream research is needed. More studies are needed that provide nuanced categorization and analysis on gender and addresses the diversity and typologies of women and men farmers.

Download the report.

The influence of exisiting gender and labor patterns on women’s participation in the Island of Chiloé salmon industry, Chile

Chilote women selling home-made empanadas, including those containing salmon, Chiloe Island, Chile. Photo: Latin Chattin http://latinchattin.com/2013/06/05/chiloe-exploring-chiles-largest-island/

Chilote women selling home-made empanadas, including those containing salmon, Chiloe Island, Chile. Photo: Kate Stevenson and Daniel Poulter, Latin Chattin http://latinchattin.com/2013/06/05/chiloe-exploring-chiles-largest-island/

Rapid economic development in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors often relies heavily on local or migrant women workers entering the paid workforce. This has been the case on the Island of Chiloé in southern Chile, one of the areas of intense growth of salmon aquaculture and salmon processing for export.  In their recent paper in the journal World Development, Eduardo Ramírez and Ruerd Ruben examined the pre-existing gender patterns that led to a fast uptake by women of paid employment in the salmon industry.  The area went from a lower than national average rate of women in the workforce in 1996 (26.6% in Chiloé compared to 36.6% nationally) to, in 2009, a higher than national average in (48% vs 43%).

The paper, “Gender Systems and Women’s Labor Force Participation in the Salmon Industry in Chiloé,” reported statistical evidence that women whose husbands previously migrated seasonally for several months, leaving them to do productive “men’s work” such as farming, as well as reproductive work, were more likely to take up paid work than other women. The women whose previous productive work was more conceived locally as “women’s work,” were less likely to take up the new paid work. These more traditional areas of women’s work were shellfish and seaweed harvesting and crafts.

Despite the ingress of women into the paid workforce, however, a gender pay gap still exists, even after adjusting for types of work undertaken by women and men.

Ramírez and Ruben suggest that more studies should look at the effects of territory-specific or local gender systems should be carefully examined and taken into account in labor policies, rather than assuming national heterogeneity.

Download the paper or contact the author, e-mail: eramirez@rimisp.org

To learn more of the background of Chiloe Island and the salmon industry, try these links:

Hayward, P. 2011, ‘Salmon aquaculture, cuisine and cultural disruption in Chiloe’, Locale: The Australasian-Pacific Journal of Regional Food Studies, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 87-110.

Pablo Ibieta, et al. 2011. Chilean Salmon Farming on the Horizon of Sustainability: Review of the Development of a Highly Intensive Production, the ISA Crisis and Implemented Actions to Reconstruct a More Sustainable Aquaculture Industry, Aquaculture and the Environment – A Shared Destiny, Dr. Barbara Sladonja (Ed.). Available from: http://www.intechopen.com/books/aquaculture-and-the-environment-a-shared-destiny/chilean-salmon-farming-on-the-horizon-of-sustainability-review-of-the-development-of-a-highly-intens

Stevenson, K. and D. Poulter. 2013. Chiloe – Exploring Chile’s largest Island. http://latinchattin.com/2013/06/05/chiloe-exploring-chiles-largest-island/

25th SPC Women in Fisheries Information Bulletin: Looking forward and back

Seaweed farming Waigina, Choiseul Province, Solomon Islands. Photo by M. Kronen, SPC WIF25.

Seaweed farming Waigina, Choiseul Province, Solomon Islands. Photo by M. Kronen, SPC WIF25.

The Secretariat for the Pacific Community (SPC), has just released its 25th Women in Fisheries Information Bulletin. Congratulations to the SPC, Bulletin Editors including current editor Dr Veikila Vuki, donors and supporters for this achievement. This issue starts with a message of support from Moses Amos, the new Director of SPC’s Fisheries, Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems (FAME) Division, who outlines his vision for women in fisheries at the SPC.

The whole issue or individual articles can be downloaded here.

CONTENTS