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Gender in Fisheries and Aquaculture

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Gender shapes the differential identities of women and men, their norms, roles and responsibilities. It influences people’s (unequal) access to resources and decision making. It influences people’s agency.

Fisheries is generally considered a male domain. Women’s roles in fisheries—along the whole value chain,  in sustaining the fishing families and community,  in protecting natural resources and local food security—are often glossed over and remain invisible. In the fisheries sector, women face persistent gender-based discrimination and marginalization, differentially defined by the diverse social context.

Women are overrepresented in vulnerable categories of employment in fisheries. They generally lack tenure security; access to productive assets and market opportunities; decent work conditions; and they have limited access to services like healthcare, child care, credits, insurance, legal aid and capacity building. They are exposed to sexual violence, prejudices and other forms of harassment. Each and every crisis impacts them disproportionately.

Women are poorly represented in fisheries’ associations, cooperatives and unions. They rarely have a say in the decisions that govern their fisheries and other matters that affect their life and livelihood. Mainstream policies and programmes remain gender-blind or biased. Lack of data undermines women’s role in fisheries.

For ICSF, since its inception in 1986, valorizing and strengthening women’s roles in fisheries and within organizations has always been a priority. For this it has undertaken research, training, advocacy and publication of the Gender in Fisheries Newsletter Yemaya. ICSF played a pioneering role in this. Its ‘Women in Fisheries’ work has been highlighting the patriarchal practices in fisheries and how these directly relate to the unsustainable exploitation of nature, to poverty and to food insecurity. It has questioned the nature of fisheries development itself, highlighting a ‘feminist perspective’ for an alternative that is in harmony with the ecosystem and respects life and livelihoods and the human rights of all people. For more information read ICSF’s Gender Policy

Current Programmes

The 8th Global Symposium on Gender in Aquaculture and Fisheries, GAF8, Special Session 7: Shared Experiences of Women in Fisheries by ICSF

Special Session 7: Shared Experiences of Women in Fisheries

The 25 Minute film (compiled by ICSF) shows a change that has occurred over a decade in different countries across the world — truthful appreciation of women’s role in fisheries. Despite differences in society, culture, politics and economics, their involvement in the sector follows a similar arc the world over. The film is an effort to understand and identify the main factors over the past decade that have shaped their role, both positively and negatively. It highlights invisible voices from the South Pacific Islands, Asia, Africa, Latin America and Caribbean region during GAF 8 at Kochi. For more: https://www.gafconference.org//

Asia Workshop: IYAFA 2022-Celebrating Sustainable and Equitable Small-scale Fisheries Need for gender equality in fisheries

Asia Workshop: IYAFA 2022-Celebrating Sustainable and Equitable Small-scale Fisheries Need for gender equality in fisheries

Women play a large role in fisheries, but often their roles and contributions are invisible or not recognized. Women do fish (both on boats and without boats), sort fish, sell fish, process fish and cook fish for home consumptions. However, often women are not seen as “real” fishers and are excluded from fisheries organizations, do not have/ have less access than men to resources such as technology, loans, insurance and information. Women have responsibilities for household work and childcare that limits what they can do in fisheries. They often have less decision making power in the household and society. Some people might feel that women are not discriminated against, but the problem is that they are not even “discriminated”, since they are not even recognized as fishers and only seen as carrying out their duties to support the family... For more: https://www.icsf.net/resources/asia-workshop-iyafa-2022-celebrating-sustainable-and-equitable-small-scale-fisheries/

Resources

Women’s economic empowerment in fisheries in the blue economy of the Indian Ocean Rim: A Baseline Report

This report provides a baseline analysis of women’s economic empowerment in the fisheries sector in the blue economy of the Indian Ocean rim region. The report focuses on the 22...

The 8th Global Symposium on Gender in Aquaculture and Fisheries, GAF8, Special Session 7: Shared Experiences of Women in Fisheries by ICSF

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The 8th Global Symposium on Gender in Aquaculture and Fisheries, GAF8 Organized by the Society of Fisheries Technologists (SOFTI) & the ICAR-Central Institute of Fisheries Technology Special Session 7: :...

Report on National Workshop on SSF Guidelines and Women in Fisheries, India, 8 -10 April, 2022, Asha Nivas Social Service Centre, Chennai, India

The International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF) Trust organized a national workshop on the SSF Guidelines and Women in Fisheries, India at Asha Nivas Social Service Centre, Chennai, India,...

Report of the Brainstorming Session for the National Workshop on Enhancing Capacities of Women Fishworkers in India for the Implementation of the SSF Guidelines, Ashir Bhawan, Ernakulam, Kerala, 15‐16 May, 2019

Report of the Brainstorming Session for the National Workshop on Enhancing Capacities of Women Fishworkers in India for the Implementation of the SSF Guidelines, Ashir Bhawan, Ernakulam, Kerala, 15‐16 May,...

Report of the National Workshop: The SSF Guidelines and Mainstreaming Gender into Fisheries Policies and Legislation, YWCA of Madras International Guest House, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, 18 to 20 August 2019

A national workshop was  organised  to mainstream gender into the fisheries policies and legislation in India, to implement the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-scale Fisheries in the Context of...

Report on workshop on enhancing capacities of women fishworkers in India for the implementation of the SSF guidelines, 21–23 November 2016, Ashoka Hall, Asha Nivas Social Service Centre, Chennai, India

The International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF) Trust organised a national workshop on ‘Enhancing capacities of women fishworkers in India for the implementation of the SSF Guidelines’ in Chennai,...

Women’s role, struggles and strategies across the fisheries value chain the case of Lake Victoria—Tanzania by Environmental Management and Economic Development Organization (EMEDO) and ICSF

This study was conducted in June and July 2016, in the fishing areas of Mwanza and Kagera regions in the lake Victoria side of Tanzania. The focus of this study...

Report of the round table of women in small-scale fisheries in Goa, 19 February 2017, Panaji, Goa. Organized by International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF) Trust with Saad Aangan

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The workshop was conducted in Konkani, the language of Goa. The programme commenced with a lively song on the fish of Goa sung by Perpet Cardoz, from the fishing community...

Changes in the labour roles of women in the small-scale fishery in Kerala

This case study seeks to understand and highlight how the changes that have taken place in the fishery of Kerala State have also played out in the lives of women...

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Implementing the small-scale fisheries guidelines for gender-equitable and climate-resilient food systems and livelihoods: Summary baseline report of the FAO FMM/GLO/155/MUL Project: Indonesia, Madagascar, Namibia and the Philippines

This report presents the design and results of a baseline survey with respect to a project of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) focusing on empowering...

Women in fisheries in the Mediterranean and Black Sea region: roles, challenges and opportunities by Eugenia Merayo et al., 2024

Women play active roles throughout the fisheries value chain in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, including participating in pre-harvest activities like vessel and gear construction and maintenance, harvest activities...

SPC Women in Fisheries Bulletin No.39, March 2024

This 39th edition of the Pacific Community’s Women in Fisheries Information Bulletin has 14 original articles from the Pacific Islands region. Our stories tend to be from a smaller subset...

A synthesis of women’s participation in small-scale fisheries management: why women’s voices matter

While women globally make up nearly half of the fisheries workforce, their contribution to the sector has long been overlooked with implications for fisheries management. To assess women’s participation in...

​Connecting gender norms and economic performance reveals gendered inequities in Malawian small-scale fish trade

Women play key roles in fish value chains, especially post-harvest processing and marketing of fish products. However, gendered inequities in small-scale fishery value chains persist around the globe, limiting livelihood...

Consultation for the development of the CFS Voluntary Guidelines on Gender Equality and Women’s and Girls’ Empowerment in the context of Food Security and Nutrition

This document summarizes the online Consultation for the development of the CFS Voluntary Guidelines on Gender Equality and Women’s and Girls’ Empowerment in the context of Food Security and Nutrition...

Technological transformation and changing social relations in the ring seine fishery of Kerala, India

Across the Global South, commercial development and technological innovations are transforming fish food systems in ways that significantly impact the livelihoods of small-scale producers and the food security of the...

Women in Aquaculture: Challenges and Opportunities, Twelfth Session Sub-Committee On Aquaculture, Hermosillo, Mexico, 16–19 May 2023

This working document highlights the crucial and urgent need to address gender inequalities and support women’s empowerment in aquaculture to strengthen the sector’s contribution to all Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)...

The status of women in agrifood systems by FAO, 2023

The status of women in agrifood systems report uses extensive new data and analyses to provide a comprehensive picture of women’s participation, benefits, and challenges they face working in agrifood...

Achieving gender equality at work, International Labour Conference 111th Session, 2023 by ILO

Achieving gender equality at work. General Survey on the Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, 1958 (No. 111), the Workers with Family Responsibilities Convention, 1981 (No. 156), the Maternity Protection Convention,...

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