Worldwide, small-scale fisheries (SSF) are an important source of food and livelihoods for rural communities and contribute substantially to national economies. Women play crucial roles in these fisheries, yet their contributions are largely invisible, often ignored and unrecognized. We conducted household and focus group surveys to examine the role of indigenous Fijian (iTaukei) women in SSF, documenting fishing practices and contributions to household food security and income. Our results reinforced several traditional views, such as iTaukei women preferentially fishing closer to their villages; but also challenged other assumptions with women fishing a wider range of habitats (from inland rivers to the open ocean) and species than previously described, and many using a boat and fishing with men. In addition to gleaning for invertebrates and seaweed, women also caught over 100 species of fish. Women fished primarily for subsistence, emphasizing their significant contribution to household food security. Although almost half of the women sold part of their catch to supplement household incomes, they also engaged in other income earning livelihoods, and therefore were not solely dependent on fisheries. Of concern was the high targeting of nursery areas for fish and invertebrate species by women fishers, and species with low spawning potential ratios. Given the level of engagement in, and contributions to fisheries, the inclusion of iTaukei women fishers in fisheries planning and management is critical for ensuring the sustainability of SSF in Fiji. Furthermore, empowering women for full participation in fisheries and lifting them out of poverty requires a re-consideration of traditional gender norms in rural communities, which are already shifting and evolving.
Women and Gender Equality (SDG 5)
The question of how to efficiently and effectively manage ocean resources in a sustainable way has reached the forefront of discussion at an international level, but women's contributions to this process have been underestimated or unrecognized. Inclusive management plays a major role in the effective creation, use and adoption of environmental governance, necessitating efforts to measure, monitor and advance inclusivity. In many Pacific island states, there is a lack of disaggregated data collection and management to assist reliable and liable gender-responsive decision-making by national and regional authorities. This lack of information leads to unquantified female contributions and unexplored potential for women to actively contribute to sustainable ocean management as traditional leaders, researchers or science-based managers and in accordance with traditional customs, cultures and processes. This paper examines the contribution of gender-disaggregated data in both (1) effective management of natural resources and (2) measurement and monitoring of the active involvement of women in ocean management. We seek to shift the question from simply “(How) are oceans used by women?” to “How can we build a clear path towards inclusive oceans management using science?”, drawing data mainly from gender and ocean management practices in Pacific Small Island Developing States. This work also seeks to ground in reality the increasing national and international evocations about social equity and avoidance of gender discrimination. Given the existing relationships of Pacific peoples with the ocean and the emerging status of ocean science-based governance, wider integration of science and women in marine management can make an interesting and positive impact in this region.
The importance of institutions in structuring access to resources is well documented. However, despite the depth of the research, few studies have examined this systematically at the level of an individual fishing activity or, more specifically, within a women's fishery. This paper explores how fisherwomen access octopuses in a small-scale fishery in Mozambique, within a context where an increasing number of conservation initiatives are targeting women's fisheries and could potentially affect fisherwomen's access. The study was conducted within the Quirimbas National Park (QNP) in Cado Delgado, the northern most province of Mozambique. Combining ethnographic fieldwork and an institutional access map as a conceptual framework, this paper provides insight into the multiple institutions that structure how octopus fishing is organised and performed by fisherwomen. The access map reveals the dominant role local normative institutions play in influencing fisherwomen's access to income from fishing for octopus. Purdah, the religious practice of securing a woman's honour, is identified as a key restraining institution that is enforced through unequal gender relations. The paper encourages an understanding of the institutional context of fishing practices in order to promote access in small-scale fisheries (SSFs) to ensure fishers continue to benefit from the fishery in the face of management. The paper concludes that a greater appreciation of power relations – encapsulated in this study by gender relations – is required to further develop institutional analyses in small-scale fisheries policies and management.
In a world in which ocean degradation is widespread and aggravated by the effects of climate change, there is a need to contribute with new management approaches to ameliorate the situation. Here, inclusive management is proposed as such an alternative. This contribution argues that including all genders in the management process is needed and the inclusion itself can generate new ways to solve problems. An assessment of findings from literature of the positive aspects when considering gender in environmental governance is presented and related to the specific situation of small-scale fisheries (SSF). These positive findings are explained in terms of (1) Participation, (2) Space, actors and activities, (3) Economic power, and (4) Equity and environmental stewardship. Further, a practical approach is taken and a model for gender inclusion in coastal/ocean management for SSF is presented and illustrated with a case of seagrass SSF in East Africa. The central argument is that in view of ongoing coastal/ocean degradation and the moderate governance and management success, it is worth trying management approaches that consciously and explicitly consider gender and diversity of actors. This will bring central actors (e.g., women not previously considered) into the management process and will provide the base for better governance and policy reform.
This viewpoint emphasizes gendered perspectives and reflects on gender roles for sustainability-focused governance. It argues that when considering gender in this context, not only equity, or power-plays between genders are at stake; in addition, for effective ocean governance, an irreducible contribution of female voices is necessary. Some key contributions of women in the field of ocean governance-related research are described as examples. If women, for instance, are not included in fisheries management, we miss the complete picture of social-ecological linkages of marine ecosystems. Overall, women are often regarded as major actors driving sustainable development because of their inclusiveness and collaborative roles. Similarly, women have advocated for the common good in marine conservation, raising important (and often neglected) concerns. In maritime industries, women enlarge the talent pool for innovation and smart growth. Besides the manifold possibilities for promoting the involvement of women in ocean governance and policy-making, this viewpoint highlights how gendered biases still influence our interactions with the ocean. It is necessary to reduce the structural, and systemically-embedded hurdles that continue to lead to gendered decision-taking with regard to the ocean.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is an authoritative and influential source of reports on climate change. The lead authors of IPCC reports include scientists from around the world, but questions have been raised about the dominance of specific disciplines in the report and the disproportionate number of scholars from the Global North. In this paper, we analyze the as-yet-unexamined issue of gender and IPCC authorship, looking at changes in gender balance over time and analyzing women’s views about their experience and barriers to full participation, not only as women but also at the intersection of nationality, race, command of English, and discipline. Over time, we show that the proportion of female IPCC authors has seen a modest increase from less than 5% in 1990 to more than 20% in the most recent assessment reports. Based on responses from over 100 women IPCC authors, we find that many women report a positive experience in the way in which they are treated and in their ability to influence the report, although others report that some women were poorly represented and heard. We suggest that an intersectional lens is important: not all women experience the same obstacles: they face multiple and diverse barriers associated with social identifiers such as race, nationality, command of English, and disciplinary affiliation. The scientific community benefits from including all scientists, including women and those from the Global South. This paper documents barriers to participation and identifies opportunities to diversify climate science.
Gender inequity in science and academia, especially in senior positions, is a recognised problem. The reasons are poorly understood, but include the persistence of historical gender ratios, discrimination and other factors, including gender-based behavioural differences. We studied participation in a professional context by observing question-asking behaviour at a large international conference with a clear equality code of conduct that prohibited any form of discrimination. Accounting for audience gender ratio, male attendees asked 1.8 questions for each question asked by a female attendee. Amongst only younger researchers, male attendees also asked 1.8 questions per female question, suggesting the pattern cannot be attributed to the temporary problem of demographic inertia. We link our findings to the ‘chilly’ climate for women in STEM, including wider experiences of discrimination likely encountered by women throughout their education and careers. We call for a broader and coordinated approach to understanding and addressing the barriers to women and other under-represented groups. We encourage the scientific community to recognise the context in which these gender differences occur, and evaluate and develop methods to support full participation from all attendees.
Although highly recognized as needed, studies linking gender and coastal/marine management are scarce. This research illustrates the importance of gender analysis in natural resource management by linking gender and coastal management i.e. Marine Spatial Planning. The research was conducted in various Zanzibar seascapes (Unguja Island, Tanzania). Using a typology comprising gender structure, symbolism and identity; the results show a clear gendered division of labor, highly associated with a gender symbolism in which traditional roles of women as responsible for reproduction activities played a major role. Men used the whole seascape for their activities, while women remained in coastal forests and shallow areas collecting wood, invertebrates and farming seaweed. These activities allowed women to combine productive and reproductive work. Ecosystem importance for subsistence decreased with distance from land for both genders, while the importance for income increased with distance for men. Both genders acknowledged seagrasses as very important for income. Income closely followed the universal pattern of men earning more. Identities were defined by traditional ideas like “women are housewives”, while men identities were strongly associated with fisheries with reinforced masculinity. Livelihood diversity was higher for women also showing a tendency of slow change into other roles. Management was found to be strongly androcentric, revealing a deep gender inequality. The research exemplifies how a gender analysis can be conducted for management enhancement. It also invites replication around the world. If management is found to be androcentric in coastal locations elsewhere, a serious gender inequality can be at hand at global level.
Drawing on ethnographic case studies from Madagascar, this research shows that multiple marine conservation projects have institutionalized inequitable access to marine recourses along gendered lines. Despite discursive and institutional shifts toward more “collaborative” and “community-based” conservation programing, there is a deficiency of women’s nominal as well as effective participation in community management organizations. This research shows that conservation organizations’ focus on proximate drivers of marine resource use, or a politics of picking the “low-hanging fruit,” over ultimate drivers such as global commodity chains, places disproportionate emphasis on marine spatial enclosures and restricting specific, and gendered, harvest methods. To address gender bias concerning access to and control over natural resources, we must go beyond the rhetoric of “community involvement” to address gendered inequalities in conservation decision making, and whose interests are served by conservation projects.
The contribution by women to fisheries economies globally continues to be overlooked, in part, because “fishing” is often narrowly defined as catching fish at sea, from a vessel, using specialized gears. Both men and women are involved in fisheries, but often in different roles and activities. Fisheries research, management, and policy have traditionally focused on direct, formal, and paid fishing activities—that are often dominated by men, ignoring those that are indirect, informal, and/or unpaid—where women are concentrated. This has led to a situation where men's and women's contributions to fisheries are not equally valued or even recognized and has resulted in women being largely excluded from fisheries decision-making processes. Here, we examine the contributions by women in the fisheries sector of five globally significant marine fishing countries—Mexico, Peru, Senegal, South Africa, and Vietnam. These countries each have strong links between livelihoods and marine capture fisheries, yet represent different geographic, socioeconomic, and governance contexts. Through a synthesis of existing data, case studies, and consultation with local experts, we found that the contribution by women to the fisheries of these five countries is substantial. However, this investigation also revealed major gaps in understanding of gender inequalities in the fisheries sector and the need for better gender-disaggregated data to inform fisheries policy.