Fisheries are critical to the economic welfare of any nation and especially among many rural people in the third world nations. Aquaculture and capture fisheries offer direct job opportunities for more than 200 million persons. Most of these people work in the conventional, fisheries field composed of almost 70% of production in fisheries. Fisheries development has been useful in ensuring food security (Kronen and Aliti 3-11). They offer a good percentage of animal protein especially in the Pacific and in Asia accounting for about 30% and averagely above 20% for countries with food deficit and low income earners.
Gender and fisheries is an important subject that has sparked a lot of interest globally. Fishing in the deep-sea and coastal waters is predominantly conducted by men. It carries with it, high safety, health and occupation risks. All the same, the women in the fishing households carry out preparatory work like mending nets. The contribution they make is in most times informal and may rarely be compensated for their work. Women have actively taken part in post-fishing activities like marketing and processing in both industrial and small-scale fisheries (Tindall and Katrien 205-11). Almost 80% of the seafood marketing is done by women in West Africa. In India, a survey conducted in the processing factories showed that young women formed 60% of the workers while the aquaculture workforce in Vietnam comprises 80% women.
A number of the cultural, societal and political environments affect gender-equity for the management of fisheries. There is some light into the myriad ways through which women offer support to complement or subsidize the fishing efforts by men. All the same, all the activities add up to the ever increasing general welfare of fishing households. The only indifference is the little returns women get out of them. Women have not fully participated in the decision-making process that is linked to fishing at the community, household, national or regional levels (Resurrection 433-47). In many nations, fishing households members are not well educated and have limited access to infrastructure and health services compared to neighboring communities like farmers. The access of women to and the effect in health and education are relatively lower compared to their male counterparts in the fishing communities.
Gender is a conception that addresses the relationships and roles that exists between men and women established by political, economic and social contexts and not through biology. Unbalanced relations of power between men and women in various cultures imply that women are in most cases disadvantaged based on the control they have resources, the access to such services as are required for them and their ability to have an advantage of a number of opportunities and address a series of changes that affect their lives (Tindall and Katrien 205-11). Policies of gender have been enacted to deal with such matters. Overlooking the multifaceted relationships between men and women as processors, boat owners and sellers, and husbands, wives, members of the community and co-workers could have negative effects on the livelihoods of the people involved. Similarly, the management of fisheries resources should be connected to such dimensions as those of the chain of fish supply and the persons taking part in fisheries and in one way affected through policies should be part of the planning process.
Women’s needs often differ from those of men regarding the harvesting, processing, production and care of fish. Gender responsibilities are changing with time. Women have now increasingly engaged in fishing and owning fishing boats. This is evident in places like Bangladesh where about 60% women form the fish farmers in the region having become very successful in entrepreneurship. The input made by women in fisheries is almost “unseen” (Kronen and Aliti 3-11). Discrimination based on gender comes from the meager value linked to the work of women and is propelled through their denial for credit facilities, technology for processing, facilities for storage and training.
The question has been whether women have played a part in supporting, complementing or even subsidizing general fishing engagement of their male counterparts. Well, the involvement of women in fisheries is unbelievably bigger than it has been assumed (Resurrection 433-47). Their engagement has shifted from pre-harvesting activities to the post activities. Their efforts have been boosted from the present engagement through the increasing dwindling stocks for fisheries and the international demand for fish as well. The nature and level often vital contribution made by women to fisheries pursuit by men as a livelihood in many third world countries is hardly found. Without the hidden, under-valued and under-listed work by women, the men could not be doing fishing completely. All the same, while men pride themselves in their distinctiveness as fishers, it is not evident which characteristics are vital for women.
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There is the absence of equal access to information, training, technology, education and research in fisheries. Women have been disadvantaged by lack of storage technology and training hence unable to keep their fish fresh compared to their male counterparts. This accounts for huge losses after fishery. Mechanization programs of fisheries done both in large and small scales risk the displacement of women from conventional livelihoods’ sources. The motorization of fishing boats in some areas has led to many catches as women fishmongers have seemed to get replaced by their male merchants. Women have faced a lot of competition from their male counterparts with the advent of technology in processing and preservation facilities (Kronen and Aliti 3-11). Women have also faced discrimination in the industrial processing. This has been noted especially when it comes to pay despite having to working away from home for a long period of time and facing challenges to deliver on domestic duties.