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Issue No.48
  • :0973-1156
  • :March
  • :2015

March 8, or International Women’s Day, is an occasion for women across the world to gather in solidarity to mark women’s ongoing struggles for equality, freedom, dignity and a violence-free life. For more than a hundred years, ever since the historic protests of New York’s garment workers forced the commemoration of this important day, March 8 has also been an occasion for women on their long road to freedom to take collective stock of gains made and setbacks suffered, and to plan ahead. As examples from across the world in this issue of Yemaya illustrate, so it is in the case of women in fishing and coastal communities, whose lives are a daily testament to the spirit of struggle and resilience underlying International Women’s Day.

Asia / India

A Right to Fish, a Fight to Live

In the Sundarbans forest in the east coast of India, women canoe fishers organize themselves to secure their constitutionally-protected right to survival and livelihood

By Urvashi Sarkar (, journalist, and researcher with South Solidarity Initiative

A tall and lean fisherwoman with a strong face stares at the evening sun fading into the still waters running through Kultali, an island in the Sunderbans forest; Anima Mandal is angry. She hasn’t eaten since morning.

She was there for a meeting that the Kultali Forest Range beat officer had fixed for 2 pm on February 14, 2015 at the forest range compound in a corner of Kultali, across a river. Nearly 50 women, and a few men, had turned up for this crucial meeting to make two pressing demands—the return of their confiscated fishing canoes (dongas) and for the women to be recognized as traditional small-scale fishworkers, with a right to fish for their livelihood.

The women, organized under the Kultali Mahila Donga Matsyajibi Samity [Kultali Women Canoe Fishers’ Association], had travelled a

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