Figure 1: A woman, head of her own family farm in shrimp aquaculture, Ca Mau province, Vietnam.
On this 8th of March 2018, on International Women’s Day, it is important to realize that we are far from gender equality in the fisheries and aquaculture sector. While the aquaculture and fisheries sector has grown in the last decades, the role of women in the fisheries and farms has yet to catch up.
Invisible but ubiquitous: women do work!
Women are more common in small-scale production. Household farms and fisheries remain a family business and the women appear to have more responsibilities and seem to do more work than in more intensive production systems. In household businesses, women work more on marketing, sales, post-harvest and artisanal processing etc. But in more intensive production systems, women are often forgotten, displaced or relegated to low paid jobs. There are very few women that have jobs like managers, owners, or executives in bigger companies.
It appears that standards, certification schemes etc. are not having a big enough impact on gender issues in fisheries and aquaculture. They should focus more on meeting the Gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls (Sustainable Development Goal #5) and the Decent work and economic growth (Sustainable Development Goal #8). But it does not work if all the actors involved in fisheries and aquaculture production are not focusing on these issues. Furthermore, the focus on gender equality should be embedded in the whole production process: planning, development, monitoring, evaluation etc., and relevant support for tackling gender issues should be available.
The Gender in Aquaculture and Fisheries Section (GAFS) and Asian Fisheries Society (AFS) has been created to promote equitable and effective cooperation among scientists/academics, technicians, fisheries officers and non-governmental organization experts involved in issues related to gender in fisheries and aquaculture so as to advance research and practice in Asia-Pacific and other regions of the world. Consequently, GAFS could help countries like Malaysia tackle the gender inequality issue in the aquaculture and fisheries sector, and offer better opportunities for women.
For more information, see the GAFS website.