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Issue No.52
  • :September
  • :2016



Fighting invisibility

Fisherwomen in Brazil demand to be heard on their right to social security and decent work

By Beatriz Ferrari (, Independent journalist, Brazil

This article about fisherwomen in Brazil, when submitted to another publication, came back with the word ‘fisherwomen’ underlined in red. ‘Fishermen?’ asked a comment in the margin. While the comment might have reflected the ingrained patriarchy and invisiblization of women prevalent in parts of Brazilian society, unfortunately, women at work seem to be invisible to the Brazilian government as well.

In Brazil, two federal decrees, 8424 and 8425, published in March 2015, defined the artisanal fisherman exclusively as the professional who pulled fish out of the water. All other professionals involved with support activities—mainly women responsible for secondary activities, such as manufacturing and repairing nets, cleaning the fish or fixing the boats—were registered not as ‘fishers’ but as ‘support workers’. Support workers, according to the decrees, were “similar to fishermen”.

The impac