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A "feminist perspective" in fisheries builds on the fact that women of fishing communities take on multidimensional roles that straddle both production and reproduction...


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Issue No:54
  • :May
  • :2017
  • :English

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which replaced the Millennium Development Goals, set new targets for sustainable development by the year 2030. Among the SDGs, SDG 14, which specifically calls for the sustainable use of marine resources, is the focus of the upcoming United Nations Ocean Conference, scheduled to take place in New York from 5 to 9 June 2017. This conference is extremely relevant for the fisheries sector, given the large number of powerful stakeholders currently seeking control over marine and fisheries resources. In the context, it is important to emphasise that there are several factors that are crucial in determining the sustainable development of these resources. A major factor is the role of women in fisheries.

Studies of small-scale fisheries across the globe show how women contribute to the sustainability of the fisheries sector. They also show that where women have greater agency, they contribute to improving value addition and productivity in the sector. In the context, SDG 5 that emphasizes gender equality and empowerment of women and children is very important, not only for equity and for the rights of women, but also from the perspective of sustainable economic growth in small-scale fisheries.


An independent life! For Metty, a fisherwoman from Kerala, India, fishing has been a mainstay for over four decades

By Nikita Gopal (nikiajith@gmail.com), Principal Scientist, ICAR-Central institute of Fisheries Technology, Cochin, India

Metty is a 59-year-old fisherwoman. She lives in Pallithode, on the Ernakulam-Alappuzha border of the South Indian state of Kerala. Her late husband was a marine fisherman who passed away seven years ago. She has three married sons, none of whom fish. They pick up construction work, driving assignments and other odd jobs. One of Metty’s daughters-in-law works in a nearby peeling shed. Her other daughters-in-law take care of the domestic work at home.

Metty has been fishing for 45 years. She is part of a group of ten to fifteen men and women who go fishing in the tributaries and kettu (dams) of the Vembanad estuarine system in and around Pallithode. The group starts out for the fishing grounds early in the morning. Metty does not have too many domestic responsibilities in the early hours as the younger women at home take care of those. She leaves home after a morning brew of black tea. The group walk to the fishing grounds, trav