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Issue No.56
  • :January
  • :2018

From the Editor

More than three years since the endorsement of the SSF Guidelines in June 2014, it is important to recall that these Guidelines, the first internationally recognised instrument for the small-scale fisheries sector, expressly call upon all stakeholders to adopt strategies to promote gender mainstreaming in the fisheries. It is important to ask, how are women in fishing communities articulating their demands in the context of the SSF Guidelines?

Women in fish processing and trade in many parts of the world are increasingly getting organised and networked to build capacity and entrepreneurial capabilities. The current issue brings together many such examples: from the Caribbean, of women fishers’ organisations working towards networking, representation and capacity building; from Africa, of women across several fishing nations networking to build capacity, adopt best practices and increase their incomes, while also advocating for more gender responsive fisheries policy; from Europe, of the women’s network AKTEA campaigning for equal rights for women in fisheries as well as for sustainable fishing practices.

However, we see that even today, in many parts of the developed world, especially in fish harvesting, the contribution of women tends to get ignored, and they do not share equal rights with men. In Norway, the number of women registered as full-time fishers was the highest in 1990, and has consistently declined since then. Low female workforce participation means low participation in fisher associations, leading to gender blind fishing policies. We read in this issue that it was only after they were recognised as professional fishers that women shellfish harvesters in Galicia were spurred to organise. At first organising independently but with affiliation to the fishermen’s organisations, in time, these women were even able to gain leadership positions in the predominantly male cofradias. Formal recognition of women’s work is thus often necessary to mobilise and build organisation, and allow women’s leadership to emerge.

While formal recognition of women’s work is of critical importance, without family and domestic support, women would find it difficult, if not impossible, to stand up to community taboos and policy indifference. In this context, the story of K.C. Rekha, who, with her husband’s support, became India’s first deep sea fisher, is particularly heartening.

Another important enabling condition for women is access to simple technology and local data, particularly in today’s context of environmental degradation, climate change and increasing encroachment of the seas by other stakeholders. The article on beach profiling in Tamil Nadu, India, highlights the importance of fishing communities taking control of such access. It brings out how women of the community can work with the men to master simple techniques towards building local data to support their own struggles for coastal rights.

All the articles in this issue thus represent examples of gender mainstreaming in different contexts, whether by external inputs of capacity building or by women’s self-organisation or through access to simple technologies, with family support being crucially important. For the local implementation of the SSF Guidelines to be truly gender sensitive, lessons learnt from such diverse global contexts are of great significance.

EUROPE / NORWAY

Then and Now—Women in Norway’s Fisheries

Twenty-five years after the introduction of the quota system, significant challenges confront women in Norway’s fisheries

By Siri Gerrard (siri.gerrard@uit.no ), Professor Emerita, Centre for Women and Gender Research, UiT-The Arctic University, Norway

Norway is considered to be one of the largest fishery nations in Europe. Despite this, there are few professional women fishers in the country. According to statistical data released in 2017 by the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries for 2016 (which this article mainly draws upon), the number of full-time women fishers in Norway was 274 compared to more than 9,000 full-time men fishers. Fishing and fishery politics have been so male dominated in Western societies that researchers have characterised fishing in general, and the quota system, introduced in Norway in 1990, in particular, as a patriarchal system. Women registered as fishers may be few but they have, particularly in the past, participated in fishing, performing tasks like baiting the long-lines, washing the boat, doing administration work or helping to deliver fish at the fish pla

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