According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 250 million people in developing countries are directly dependent on fishing for their livelihood. In India, around 28 million people are engaged in fisheries for a living, as per the data from the Department of Fisheries. Fishing is one of those occupations that has witnessed women’s active participation.

In India, around 66% of women are part of the fishing workforce, especially in post-harvest activities such as cutting, cleaning, salting, etc. The significant participation of women in the fisheries industry is not peculiar to India. According to the FAO, 90% of fish processing is done by women globally.

Unfortunately, this almost equal share of women in the fisheries industry does not result in parity of tangible gains for women. And, even after their higher participation in the fisheries workforce, women receive a disproportionate share of returns. In her paper “Fisherwomen—The Uncounted Dimension in Fisheries Management: Shedding Light on the Invisible Gender,” Lesley Evans Ogden writes that in many parts of the world, the role of women is invisible, underestimated, and not enumerated, even though they contribute significantly to economic progress and food security. In the fisheries industry, production is mainly controlled by men as they are the ones who mostly go to the rivers and seas to catch fish.

On the other hand, women are primarily involved in post-production activities like processing and selling and have to procure fish from male fishers. The control of men over the catch results in unequal bargaining power between male and female fishers.

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