The Bay of Bengal Programme (BOBP), an intergovernmental fisheries advisory body, is using art to raise public awareness of the instrumental role women play in fish cultivation in South Asia in a series of 71 paintings from 52 different artists.

Struggles, negligence, strength, success and more. Everything that marks the position of women working in aquaculture has been delicately portrayed in a book of paintings by 52 artists from India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Maldives. The publication, which carries 71 lively artworks explicitly sketching the status and conditions of female workers, brings forth both the miseries and power of the women in the sector of the countries bordering the Bay of Bengal.

The book is part of an artistic campaign, Waves of Art, launched by the Bay of Bengal Programme (BOBP), aimed at highlighting the roles played by women, including their issues and achievements, in aquaculture and fisheries in South Asia. The initiative assumes significance in view of the poor representation of women in fisheries activities and governance.

Out of a total of 52 artists from these four countries, 18 from Kerala together contributed 24 paintings to the book, which has a total of 63 artworks representing India. The book contains works of professional artists, scientists and subject matter specialists in the sector. Portrayals of women from Kerala’s backwaters, post-harvesting units and fish markets have found a place in the publication. The artistic representation grabbed the attention of many stakeholders and the public while the artists assembled to draw their paintings during the 8th Global Conference on Women in Aquaculture and Fisheries (GAF8) held in Kochi recently.

The book has a collection of works representing women’s unending battle with odds to make a living, poor working conditions posing risks of health issues, determination and strength to fight for empowerment and power to conquer success—a blending reality in the sector.