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.
Women and Gender Equality (SDG 5)
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.
National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plans (NBSAPs) are key instruments for defining priorities and modalities for effective, ef cient and equitable biodiversity management at the national level and across key sectors. As such, they provide important opportunities to recognize and integrate women’s empowerment and gender equality considerations.
Out of the 254 total NBSAP reports from 174 countries (presented from 1993 to 2016), 143 reports (56% of total documents) from 107 countries (61% of total countries examined) contain at least one gender and/or women keyword.
With respect to how women and women’s participation are characterized in NBSAPs, the most countries (37% of the 174 Parties included in this analysis) indicate inclusion of women as stakeholders; 27% include reference to women as beneficiaries; 17% refer to women as vulnerable; and the fewest, 4% (seven countries) characterize women as agents of change.
Gender considerations are integrated in various ways and across multiple sections of NBSAPs. For example, 14% of countries include women’s empowerment and/or gender equality as a guiding principle. Approximately one-quarter (24%) of most recent NBSAPs include at least one specific activity geared towards women or otherwise proactively including gender considerations, e.g., to address gender gaps.
Echoing common themes across decades of CBD decisions, 26 countries (15%) reference women as keepers of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) in relation to their roles as farmers, fishers, and elders of indigenous communities in at least one of their NBSAPs, while 41 countries (24%) reference women as stewards of the environment in at least one NBSAP.
Institutions matter within natural resource management. While there are many examples of analyses of the nature and influence of institutions within fisheries, there are fewer examples of how institutions inform the practice and outcomes of co-management. This article reports on analysis of institutions and fisheries co-management in East African and Malawi inland fisheries informed by Critical Institutionalism. It concludes that relations between fisheries departments and local co-management structures, and between local government/traditional authorities and local co-management structures, and social, power, and gender relations within and beyond fisheries communities, particularly impact on the practice and outcomes of co-management.