On 3-7 August 2016, the Asian Fisheries Society in collaboration with 11th Asian Fisheries and Aquaculture Forum (11th AFAF) organized the 6th Global Symposium on Gender in Aquaculture and Fisheries (GAF6) in Bangkok, Thailand. There were six people who represented WorldFish, Cynthia McDougall, Alexander Kaminski, Afrina Choudhury, Surendran Rajaratnam, Helen Teioli, and Safina Naznin. Three others who presented their work in partnership with WorldFish were Irna Sari, Kaniz Fatema and Sanjida Huque.
The symposium started with a training workshop to introduce participants to approaches in theorizing gender that would enable them formulate theoretically grounded research questions focused on gender in fisheries and aquaculture.
The theme of the symposium this year was “Engendering security in fisheries and aquaculture” and the presentations delivered highlighted the multiple facets of security for people involved in fisheries and aquaculture. It went well beyond food security to include issues that impact women and men differently such as drought and other natural or climate change-related disasters and also those that benefit women and men differently. Updates from around the globe showed some similarities on the important roles women play and position they hold in the fisheries and aquaculture sector that often go unrecognized.
The livestock and fish program sponsored two presentations to this year’s symposium. The first was a paper highlighting the findings regarding women’s empowerment in aquaculture, based on two case studies from Indonesia: shrimp farming in Barru district and homestead milkfish processing in Sidoarjo district.
The case studies form half of a larger study being undertaken by WorldFish and the FAO entitled Women’s Empowerment in Aquaculture Production Systems in Asia: Comparative Case Studies and Synthesis from Bangladesh and Indonesia. The findings signaled that while women predominated in homestead milkfish processing businesses, shrimp farming operations are almost entirely run by male farmers. While the engagement in aquaculture has generated benefits, most notably income, it has also been accompanied by some negative outcomes, in particular for the women who stretched gender boundaries to engage as shrimp farm operators. Women’s lower participation in shrimp farming, and outcomes in these nodes were shaped by social and gender norms, financial resources and access to land and ponds, human and social capital including networks, and spousal (family) support. The findings emphasized the need for the government, NGOs and other actors involved in aquaculture programs to engage with fundamental barriers identified in the study. The two-case study will be available online electronically by the end of 2016.
The second presentation elucidated the preliminary findings of a systematic literature review on gender and aquaculture. The review is being undertaken in response to the need for clarity on strengths, gaps and patterns in gender knowledge and analysis in the landscape of existing aquaculture literature. Focusing on 7 countries —Egypt, Zambia, Tanzania, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Cambodia— the work places the program’s contributions in the larger landscape and will lay the groundwork for the FISH CRP.
Preliminary findings identified a significant imbalance in the quantity of literature addressing gender, with Bangladesh having the most number of papers produced (both as journal articles and grey literature), and Egypt having the least (and only grey literature were found on Egypt). Focusing on content of the literature, key emerging similarities from across the countries included: i) similar patterns in gendered divisions of labour (men tending to dominate production, and women tending to be most involved in processing and market fish); ii) women across all countries facing challenges in accessing key assets and resources; and, iii) women having similar constraining factors (limited time due to household responsibilities; unequal ownership and access to land, capital and other resources; limited access to market and mobility; lack of education, knowledge and skills; and inadequate access to extension services.).