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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.


Gender equality in and through fisheries

This article identifies key priorities and challenges that lie in the path of achieving gender equality targets, particularly in the high-poverty and increasingly resource-scarce context of Southeast Asian fisheries.

By Kyoko Kusakabe (kyokok@ait.ac.th), Professor, Department Head, Department of Development & Sustainablity, Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand

Fishing is often classified as men’s occupation, and women are believed to have little role to play. However, in reality, women comprise almost 47 per cent of the 120 million people engaged in capture fisheries. Though women play a large role in fish trade and fish processing, these roles have been relatively invisible until recently when researchers started paying attention to the fishing industry’s value chain. When trade and processing began to be included in the analysis, women’s substantial contribution to the fishing industry became visible. There is now more and more evidence that women’s participation in fisheries is important.

Traditionally, women’s roles in the fisheries industry have been complementa