1.9.1.Gender issues in fisheries
The word gender denotes all the socially given attributes, roles, activities and responsibilities connected to being male or female in a given society. Gender roles are socially defined roles of men and women which may be influenced by culture household structure, ecological conditions, religion, education, access to resources, etc.,
Long experience from several of the development projects and initiatives around the world has indicated that gender roles is fundamental to success of any resource management plan and fisheries is no exception to this established trend.. The role that women play in fisheries is multirarious and is not static.
Gender analysis, sets out to understand and document differences in gender roles, perspectives, activities, needs and opportunities in a specific context with the aim of ensuring that an awareness on gender is integrated to the evaluation and development of fisheries management.
Women’s role in general is not well recognised in all the societies especially in developing countries. Though they contribute substantially in all the societies, the benefits they derive out of their contribution is very meagre.
According to a United Nation’s report, women perform 2/3rd of the works, but receive only 10% of the income and own only 1% of the total assets. The main reason is in society they are assigned with works such as home making, (which involves more of responsibility and economic values are not assigned for this job), menial jobs (which are time consuming but not considered as highly skilful) support role to the male counterparts in their occupation and management of the family enterprises and certain other jobs that demand lots of patience and time to perform but don’t involve much risks and hard physical works. The major reasons for the prevalence this kind of condition for women is their gender attributes.
In fisheries women play a significant role. Their participation is so prominent in post harvest operations. Though their contribution is significant is fisheries, they are not given a fair deal, equal opportunity and access and rights to resources and their control.
The importance of gender issues in fisheries is listed as below.
- Women make a substantial contribution to fishing especially small-scale fisheries like artisanal fisheries, hand picking of crustaceans, gleaning of molluscan shells, sea weeds etc. They also help the mentolk in preparing baits, fabriation and operation of traps, and certain types of gears, mending of nets etc., which make substantial conriobution to the income of the family.
- They play the major role in processing of fish and fishery products, as well as in retail marketing. Although these roles are different to those of men, they are integral parts of the industry and ignoring these activities means ignoring a large portion of the sector. The different kinds of works done by women generates different kinds of knowledge which are complementary to the roles performed by males. For example, since women dominate, retail marketing.
They have more knowledge on the demand for different varieties of fishes and prices fetched by different varieties. This information will be helpful to the men folk involved in fishing to realise better revenues.
- Since women are predomeriant in retail marketing and production of some of the value added fish products like dried fish, they help to realise better price for the produce and this will add to the overall income of the family. A part of this additional income, helps the menfolk in buying fishing implements.
- The under-representation of women in decision making, taken away a large portion of the available pool of expertise from both the government and the community.
- Now the concept to co-management is gaining importance to sustain fishery production. This concept will be a workable one among fishing communities who remain united. Networking among women which normally exists in the community will facilitate this process.
- Women can play a major role in the conservation of threatened fishery resources by contributing their traditional knowledge and observations in artisanal fisheries to resource managers and policy makers and also creating awareness on conservation among the children and youth who take over the mandates from the elders in future.
- In evolving alternative livelihoods for fishers, the role of women in this direction cannot be neglected as economic activities like production of a variety of value added fish products and by products will be the beginning point for such a move. In such cases, women have the potential to play a major role than their male counter parts.