Category Archives: Gendered labor studies

Highlighting the Work of Prof. (Mrs) Vijayakhader, India

Professor Vijahkhader

Prof Vijaykhader has a strong record of contributions to women in fisheries through food technology research and education in India. Her contributions have been recognized recently. She was appointed by the Government of India National Mission on Education and the Ministry of Human Resources Development as the subject coordinator for ICT enabled Higher Education at National level on production of course-ware e-Content for postgraduate subjects especially for Food Technology by.

She will also receive the 3rd Dr.Rajammal P.Devdas Memorial Award for her out standing scientific contributions in the area of Nutritional Sciences. She will deliver the Memorial Award Lecture during the 44th Annual National Conference of Nutrition Society of India (NSI) at Titupathi, Nov.16-17,2012.

We congratulate Prof Vijaykhader for her achievements and below highlight some of her publications and awards that are relevant to women in fisheries.


Chapter 3: Socio-economic status of fisherwomen. Sathiadhas, R and Khader, Vijaya and Hassan, Femeena and Kasim, H M and Sudhakara, N S and Narayanakumar, R and Dhanapal, K and Lakshmi, J.  In: Workshop on Empowerment of Fisher Women, 13-14 October 2003, Hyderabad.

Abstract: In India, women constitute about 50 per cent of the population and comprise one third of the labour force. Women account for 32.5 per cent of the total work force of 121.63 million (1993-94) and the figure is still increasing day by day. Among the different sectors of the Indian economy where women contribute significantly, fishery sector is an important one. Out of the 5.4 million active fishers in India, 3.8 million (70.37%) are fishermen and 1.6 million (29.63%) are fisherwomen.

Study Methodology: In four Indian States – Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamilnadu – 13 coastal districts were selected based on their relative importance in fisheries in the respective States. From these districts, 28 coastal villages were selected based on their method of fishing-mechanized, motorized, non-mechanized and representation of different fisherwomen stakeholders in the district. A total of 5744 households were covered in all the four States.

(Caution: this download is larger than 9.0 Mb)


Nutritional status and socioeconomic empowerment of fisherwomen in the coastal ecosystem of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, India. By V. Khader, R.N. Kumar, J. Lakshmi, K. Dhanapal, H.M. Kasim, R. Sathiadhas and N.S. Sudhakara. In: Global Symposium on Gender and Fisheries – The WorldFish Center.

(Proceedings published 2006: for this paper, please go to pp 69-79 of the publication)

Abstract: This study was carried out in the coastal areas of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. From these states, 13 districts and 28 villages were selected. A total of 5,744 households were covered. Cereal consumption was highest in Andhra Pradesh followed by Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Pulse consumption was high in Kerala when compared to other states. The overall energy intake of the fisherwomen was 1,827 kcal/day; protein intake was 50.6 gm/day; carbohydrate intake was 343 .5 gm/day; and fat intake was 27 gm/day. The mean intake of micronutrients was less than the recommended dietary allowance. The mean body mass index was 21 .3. The nutritional status of the women was: 49% normal; 17 % low normal; 10.5% mildly malnourished; 4% moderately malnourished; and 2.9% severely malnourished. About 11 .5% of the fisherwomen were overweight and 4.6% were obese. A subsample of 915 women was clinically observed: 34 .8% were diagnosed with angular stomatitis; 31 % with cheelosis; 42 .8% with bleeding gums; and 44 .2% with dry skin. Some 72 % of the women were anemic.

An assessment of the socioeconomic status indicated that very few households (15 .4%) maintained livestock for income generation. About 60% of the fisherwomen carried out post-harvest activities to earn income. Food expenditure comprised 60.7% of the earned income contributing to the major share of the spending. Debt servicing was a serious problem faced by 44 .9% of the respondents who had procured loans mostly from non-institutional sources.


Dedicated Fisherwomen of India, In: GAA Global Aquaculture Advocate Magazine

[Link no longer available]

This article was published in the Community and Environment section of GAA’s October 2005 Global Aquaculture Advocate magazine. It was written by Dr. Vijaya Khader, dean of home science at Acharya N. G. Ranga Aricultural University, and Dr. N. S. Sudhakara, head of the Department of Fish Processing Technology at the College of Fisheries in India.


Role of Fisherwomen in Coastal Eco-System of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamilnadu – An OverviewBy Vijaya Khader and R. Sathiadhas

-Association for International Agricultural and Extension Education

22nd annual Conference Proceedings, Clearwater Beach, Florida, USA.

Abstract: The contributions of the fisherwomen penetrate every aspect of post-harvest handling, preservation, processing and marketing of seafood products and provide an intergral link between producers and consumers. Increased competition, declining resources and difficult working conditions make their work challenging. Women, who constitute approximately half of India’s population, play vital role in the operation of the fisheries and their continuing growth as a component of the agriculture sector of the economy. The assessment of the socio economic status indicated that very few households (15.41%) maintained livestock for income generation. About 60 per cent of the fisherwomen carried out post-harvest activities to earn income. Food expenditure comprised 60.68% of the earned income contributing to the major share of the spending. Debt servicing was serious problem faced by 44.9% of the respondents who had availed loans mostly from non-institutional sources. Much of India’s national food security rests on the shoulders of its fisherwomen. Affording comprehensive care for these women is correct in principle and a practical necessity if India’s fisheries sector is to be satisfactorily sustained and the fisher women empowered, both socially and economically. This can only be done through education about nutrition, health, sanitation, and child care, and training on current technologies and best practices techniques. Education materials viz., CDs, Flash Cards, Pamphlets, Brochures and Folders on health and hygiene, disaster management and income generation activities developed to create awareness. Two equipments namely Low cost ice Cream Freezer and multipurpose fresh fish vending and display table fabricated, received patents and licensed the technology to an woman entrepreneur.


Empowerment of Fisherwomen. 2008 Agrotech Pub. Co. 152 pp.

(Limited online searching of text available only)


Prof Vijaykhader receiving the INWES Eminent Scientist Award.

Prof Vijaykhader receiving the INWES Eminent Scientist Award.

On 12 October 2012: Received the EMINENT WOMEN SCIENTIST AWARD in Delhi, India, at the Regional Conference of the International  Network of Women Engineers and Scientists (INWES).

On 17 November 2012: Received the 3rd Dr, Rajammal P.Devdas Memorial Award. Here is the Award statement:

“Prof. Vijayakader, Eminent Academician, Administrator & Extension Worker, Out Standing Scientist was conferred 3rd Dr. Rajammal P.Devdas Memorial Award on 17th Nov.2012 at Sri Venkateswra University during 44th National Conference Organizes by Nutrition Society of India on the topic Current Trends in Food Security to meet National Nutritional Challenges.”

” The Award was given for her major Research work on SOCIO ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT OF RURAL, FARM, FISHER AND TRIBAL WOMEN BESIDES IMPROVING HEALTH & NUTRITIONAL STATUS OF VULNERABLE GROUPS OF POPULATION. The Award of Medal & Certificate will be given by Dr. Anura V  Kurpad, President, Nutrition Society of India.”

“Vijaya Khader was instrumental in starting the INTERFACULTY POST GRADUATE PROGRAM IN FOOD TECHNOLOGY IN A.N.G.R.A.U.”

Insider’s Rapport? Take a Visit to a Philippine Coastal Community with Dr Nelson Turgo, Social Scientist

Dr Nelson Turgo, Cardiff Univ. Photo: Cardiff Univ website

This highly readable account of a social scientist’s experience in returning to his own community to conduct research will make field researchers reflect on, how, as Dr Turgo says, “our identities as researchers are made and remade through the research process”. The gender insights are also revealing, such as what women and men do after a fisheries crisis and how men view fish marketing when it had previously been women’s work.

‘I Know Him So Well’: Contracting/tual ‘Insiderness’, and Maintaining Access and Rapport in a Philippine Fishing Community

by Nelson Turgo
Cardiff University

Abstract: ” ‘Insider’ researchers are generally conceived to have an epistemic privilege in the field over ‘outsider’ researchers, especially around the issues of gaining access and building rapport with research participants. However, access and rapport once secured must be continuously maintained and this poses several methodological challenges to the researcher. This can be a particular problem if the people being researched have an intimate knowledge of the researcher’s life. This intimate knowledge can affect the maintenance of access and rapport with research participants, particularly in a small community characterised by insecure economic prospects and whose members’ survival could be affected by the researcher’s political experience. Based on an ethnographic study of a fishing community in the Philippines, this article is concerned with the various nuances of maintaining access and rapport in one’s own community and its ever-evolving economic and political conditions, which then contribute to the shifting positionality of ‘insider’ researchers’ status in the field.

Download it on Sociological Research Online

Women and men differ in roles, responses to rules in Ostional turtle protection

Collecting turtle eggs. Photo: Ostional National Wildlife Refuge

The Ostional National Wildlife Refuge on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica is well known for its turtle fisheries and allied turtle conservation efforts. Women and men are actively engaged in the fishery and protection activities, usually in different ways. This management analysis in Marine Policy  (open access article) (“What makes them follow the rules? Empirical evidence from turtle egg harvesters in Costa Rica” by Roger Madrigal-Ballestero, Achim Schluter and Maria Claudia Lopez) contains very useful gender analyses of how the fishery and protection system work. It “presents an empirical analysis of the factors that determine individual compliance with a locally devised set of rules for harvesting and selling marine turtle eggs, as well as for protecting the turtles and their hatchlings. Individuals who violate the rules receive a monetary penalty, which implies a reduction in the income from sale of eggs. …  Using written records of deductions due to sanctions between May 2008 and May 2010 and information from a survey of 108 local turtle egg harvesters, the paper presents the results of econometric analyses of factors that influence the amount of fines received by individuals. The results suggest that individual dependence on the income from sale of eggs, perceptions of rules and their legitimacy, and demographic factors such as age and gender are all important factors explaining rule breaking behavior….” In particular, women tend to comply better than men with the rules and take a longer view. Gendered divisions of labour are strong and women’s work is less well regarded in the community than that of the men.

Women’s role in sea cucumber fisheries

Women and men interviewed in Nusa Tengah, Semporna. Photo: Poh Sze Choo.

Updated February 2013!

In her recent paper in the SPC Beche-de-mer Information Bulletin, Poh Sze Choo reported, among other results,  on a survey of gender roles in sea cucumber fishing in Semporna, Sabah, Malaysia.

She found that “fishers who collect sea cucumbers in Semporna belong to either the Bajau Tempatan or Bajau Laut communities. Most of the fishers are men who mainly fish at night either alone, with friends or with family members (usually their sons). A small number of fishers in Denawan and Nusa Tengah fish with their wives and daughters. In areas where sea cucumbers are still found on shallow reef flats (e.g. Nusa Tengah), women and children frequently glean for sea cucumbers during low tide.” And both women and men are involved in processing the sea cucumbers.

In another article in the same issue of the Information Bulletin, Majid Afkhami and co-authors noted that for the sea cucumber fisheries of Iran and Oman, no women and children were involved in the dive fishery of Iran (Qeshm Island), but that in Oman, when all collection was during low tide and by hand, 50% of were women and children, but this dropped to 15% more recently as the fishery started to became also a dive fishery.

These results raise the question of whether, as, in many parts of the world, sea cucumbers are no longer abundant in shallower waters more accessible to women, women are becoming marginalized in sea cucumber fisheries.

Further information on women in sea cucumber fisheries:

Thanks to a comment from Khalfan Al Rashdi, readers may also be interested to learn about women’s roles in sea cucumber harvesting in Oman. The link to that paper is: (

This very interesting  2007 paper points out that 50% of the beche de mer fishers in your study were women, indicating that men fished in a wider range of fishery types and that children also fished for beche de mer. The traders also seek out the women and other fishers, indicating the high demand for the product.

Choo Poh Sze has also offered her perspectives on women in sea cucumber fisheries more generally:

“Thank you for the link. Sea cucumber being a sedentary species easily collected by hand during low tide is especially suitable for women and children. However when the sea cucumbers are no longer available from the shallow reef flats due to overfishing, sea cucumber landings from women and children will be adversely affected as men will then fish for sea cucumbers in the deeper ares by either free diving or using compressors or  scuba equipment. Night fishing is also practised as sea cucumber are most active at night and scour the seabed.”

RFLP: news on projects involving women

Woman fish seller, Sri Lanka. Source: RFLPThe December 2011 RFLP Newsletter (FAO-Spain Regional Fisheries Livelihoods Programme) features several articles on projects that reach out to women, such as vocational training, skills enhancement in processing, and a case study gender analysis for Negombo and Puttalam Districts in Sri Lanka.

To download the Newletter: Dec 2011 RFLP Newsletter

Sri Lanka gender analysis report:  Gender_Analysis_Puttalam_Negombo

Nori culture and gender in Japan

Nori farmer, Shimanto, Japan. Source: Wiki commons “the Story of the Seaweed Lady”

Transition in nori cultivation : evolution of household contribution and gendered division of labor

by Dr A. Delaney

In Cahiers de Biologie Marine Link

[CdBM (2011) Vol 52(4):527-533]

Abstract: Consumers throughout the world have gained familiarity with the seaweed nori (porphyra spp) thanks to the popularity of Asian cuisine, particularly Japanese sushi. Few actually know much about the people who produce this seaweed, however. This article presents qualitative social science research undertaken in Northeastern Japan among a community of nori cultivators on their production process and cultural way of life. Natural scientists acknowledge that in order to manage natural resources, it is actually the resource users who must be managed. In order to manage resource users, with the goals of social and environmental sustainability, we must understand both society and cultural institutions. With this in mind, this article focuses on the division of labor among cultivators, particularly along gender lines and the impacts, on a cultural level, of technological change on nori production. Technological change has had a profound impact on both the manner of nori production as well as the household division of labor and work and gender roles. Women play a key role in nori production today. With better understanding of such outward manifestations of culture and society we can bring the human dimensions of systems to bear in order to better manage these, and other natural resources.

Some additional information: A big breakthrough in closing the life-cycle for nori came in 1949 when Japanese researchers saw the publication of a British scientist, Dr Kathleen Drew-Baker, on the reproduction of a related species. Dr Drew-Baker is still honored in Japan for her findings, including by a memorial at Uto City, Japan (see for an introduction). Thanks to my friend Choo Poh Sze for alerting me to Dr Drew-Baker’s work some years ago. Dr Delaney informs me that she has mentioned Dr Drew-Baker also in her thesis from which this paper is drawn.

See also this article on Dr Drew-Baker and nori culture from

Sri Lanka: women marginalized at top of supply chain

Supply Chain Management in the Aquaculture Industry: The Case of Food Fish Aquaculture in Sri Lanka

Download at:

S.P.M. Jayantha1 and D.A.M. De Silva2

This paper on supply chains for inland fisheries and aquaculture in Sri Lanka found that the fishery value chain was dominated by few big players and a number of intermediaries. The authors found that women became increasingly marginalized “with every step of the value chain with complete exclusion at the

Photo: Woman drying fish, Sri Lanka, Bandara Basanayke

top end”.

Fisherwomen in the southern Aegean Sea, Turkey

Huriye Goncuoglu and V. Unal published the results of studies on Fisherwomen in the Turkish fishery, southern Aegean Sea in the Journal of Applied Ichthyology, Vol. 27, p 1013–1018, August 2011. (

Lacking official records on the active involvement of women in Turkish fisheries and acknowledgement of their participation, this study set out to validate their involvement and learn more about the status of women in local fisheries in the southern Aegean Sea region of Turkey. The study collected data from on-site surveys and interviews with fisherwomen living in the southern Aegean region of Turkey. Even finding the women was difficult because of the lack of official records. The “snowball” sampling method was used and 96 fisherwomen were interviewed. In the entire southern Aegean region only ten women were members of a cooperative, although many more fish on boats with gillnets and longlines. Although fisherwomen truly fulfill all functions that the profession requires (both pre- and post-harvest phases),  the study demonstrates that they are ignored in pertinent policies.

Thanks to Cornelie Quist for drawing to our attention this paper on fisherwomen in a little studied area and to the authors for their paper which adds to the growing knowledge that is shining a light on gender roles and contributions in fisheries and aquaculture.

Author: Huriye Gonncuoglu, Faculty of Fisheries, Ege University, TR-35100, Bornova, Izmir, Turkey. E-mail: