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Women in post harvest fisheries :
undervalued and unrecognized
Nikita Gopal
Principal Scientist
ICAR-Central Institute of Fisheries Technology
Cochin, Kerala, India
&
Vice Chair
Gender in Aquaculture & Fisheries Section of the Asian Fisheries
Society
Virtual Consultation on “Science for Resilient Food, Nutrition and Livelihoods: Contemporary
Challenges” Session “Post-harvest markets and supply chains”
ICAR-Central Institute of Fisheries Technology
Outline
• Situate the women in
fisheries
• Why we should be
looking at gender
• What needs to be
done
SECTOR OVERVIEW
Source: FAO
India’s contribution : 12.59 million tonnes
WHERE ARE THE WOMEN SITUATED
• Traditionally, fishing industry has a man’s face
• But women’s efforts also are behind every bite of fish we
taste.
– fish production would not be possible
– fish processing and delivery to the consumer would not
function
– and households would have less access to fish and food
• FAO - 120 million in capture fisheries of which 50% are women
• Primary sector alone - 59.5 million (fisheries and aquaculture) -
women about 14% in marine and 20% in inland sectors
– Even in harvest, especially in small scale fisheries, a lot of
women are actually involved.
• Dominate post harvest
– Post-harvest again includes very diverse activities and if the
sub-sectoral activities are looked at, in processing about 90%
are women and 60% of all fish sellers in Asia and Africa are
women
Post-harvest fisheries comprises the activities that take
place from the time the fish is landed or harvested until it
is consumed.
Post-harvest fisheries embraces the cultural,
environmental, economic, institutional, social, technical
and marketing aspects of the supply, demand,
preservation, processing and distribution of fish and fish
products.
Source: POST-HARVEST FISHERIES A Manual of Information and Guidelines for NGOs and Development Agencies
Working with Artisanal Fishing Communities, DFID Department for International Development Post-Harvest
Fisheries Project
Fishing vessels
Landing Centre/ Harbour
Large Scale Traders/
Wholesalers/ Retailers
Agents of seafood
processors
Procuring for
drying/curing
Wholesale markets
Retail Markets
Other markets
Pre-Processing
Processing
Curing/ Drying
Fish Meal/ Oil
• Look at women in post harvest fisheries from
the resource and technology point of view
• When fish was landed near the fishing villages
on beaches, women had better access to work
and the resource for multiple uses.
• Traditionally a portion of the catch was also
taken for household consumption, which in a
way went a long way in ensuring protein
availability to the coastal communities.
• They also had enough fish to feed the family and when
fresh fish was not available relied on the processed fish
for the same
Women have also
traditionally been
involved in shore based
activities like sorting of
the catch, marketing it in
interior areas,
processing excess catch
using traditional
methods like drying,
smoking, fermenting.
• Changes in the ways fish is harvested has also
brought about changes in women’s tenure
rights, which primarily included their access to
the landed resource.
• With landings shifting to harbours, women are
no longer able to access fish easily for other
activities like marketing.
• Their access to far off harbours and landing
centres is also difficult due to increased
distances and costs to be incurred in what was
otherwise a walk from their homes.
• Women now have to source fish for marketing from
other traders.
• Ingenuity in pooling resources to hire vehicles for
purchase and for reaching points of sale is seen.
• This is one way of reducing costs and sharing risks.
• Women fish sellers usually still depend on spaces in markets or
sell door-to-door.
• Traditional marketing spaces are also being lost due to new
players coming in to control market activities.
• Markets are auctioned by local bodies and the bidder often
decides the renting out of spaces, and the vantage points need not
be necessarily given to women.
• Traditional processing activities like Sun drying
• Several technology solutions to improve
quality like simple raised platforms using
locally available material; or
• solar or other driers can be popularised
through targeted schemes
• Women in the North
East region of the
country ferment fish.
• Smoking is practiced
in widely in states
like Odisha, West
Bengal and some
parts of Andhra
besides the NE.
• Lakshadweep which
is famous for smoked
tuna.
All these traditional processing
activities have dual advantages, as
sources of income and for
household food and nutritional
security.
• The commercial seafood processing brings in about Rs.
46600 crores as foreign exchange to the country with
about 1.38 million tons of seafood being exported.
• Almost all of this is contributed by women as the entire
work force at the floor level in factories is women.
WHEN SO PRE-DOMINANT , WHY
THE INVISIBILITY
• Little say over the benefits available to them and
receive little support in their fish work
• Practical and long-term needs are often neglected
• Weak bargaining power to change their situation due
to historical gender biases normalized in the
workplace and society
• Gender inequality affects
– food and financial security
– personal safety
– family nutrition
– stability of whole communities.
• Worsening - industry experiences pressure to
minimize labour costs and leans toward fishing and
aquaculture practices that degrade the environment
and fish stocks
• Vicious cycle of worsening environmental and social
conditions on which all women and men depend
• Work , not considered work in the economic
sense
• Seen just as an extension of their household
responsibilities
• This lack of recognition for her work and her
work place results in work place challenges
going unrecognised as well.
– Markets tend to be unhygienic and women often
lack basic facilities (even a toilet)
• Compared to men, women
selling similar fish often
receive lower prices for their
wares. The expectation is
that women are satisfied
just to be employed.
• Women vendors face increased competition from
men, large companies, and women.
• Working in inadequate processing, drying and fish
handling spaces without access to clean water, they
lack the political power to improve occupational
conditions.
• The building of modern markets, offices and
apartments is squeezing fisherwomen out of their
former vending sites, with newer spaces often rented
out to bigger, predominantly male operators.
• Safety at work is another serious concern.
• This is a basic right that the constitution guarantees
under Right to Work. However this is a continuing
issue for women in fisheries, which has not got the
attention it deserves.
• Women selling fresh fish are not allowed to use
public transport in several states. They have been
pushed and jostled out when they have attempted
to.
• Women selling in markets also face abuse, both
verbal and physical.
• Women in seafood processing -physical discomfort
work environment
• Wages - piece rate and depend on the volume
processed
• Involvement of women in decision-making is very
important for this.
• Participation can be constrained by social and cultural
factors prevalent in societies.
• There may be laws that are discriminatory.
• Tenure rights are not clear and women’s rights will be
the first to go when we saw access to fish being lost
when fishing became mechanised.
• Access to capital is problematic as schemes tend to be
myopic in its vision.
– How do we bring in the whole gamut of activities under
schemes?
– Why do we only think of alternative livelihood options like
tailoring or some other such domestic sort of work when we
talk of women?
– Why can’t they be entrepreneurs of other kinds?
• Policies and investments tend to be gender
blind
• Globally policies have only now begun adding
terms like gender equality into instruments
(SDGs, SSFG)
• The CCRF (1995) - does not mention women
and gender.
• SDG 14 (Conserve and sustainably use the
oceans, seas and marine resources) does not
reference SDG #5 (Achieve gender equality
and empower all women and girls).
• Policy - increase exports, modernize and
intensify production, and establish offshore
farming.
• Gender is not taken into account when
transforming catch-to-consumer fisheries
operations by consolidating, scaling up,
centralizing and automating operations, which
have many of the roles that women play— like
manual fish processing and small-scale marketing
• Women left without work - skills and assets are
not upgraded to adapt to changes like new
processing technologies
• Data gaps (lack of sex-disaggregated data)
• In 2016, FAO fisheries and aquaculture
employment statistics were broken out by sex
for the first time.
• From 2009-2014, only 27 % of FAO Member
countries reported sex-differentiated
employment data for fisheries. Only 33 %
reported them for aquaculture.
• Pandemic has brought a separate set of
issues
–Livelihoods – what about fisherwomen
livelihoods
–New normals – how will they impact
women’s work
–Increased domestic violence, stress
THE FISH SECTOR WINS WHEN WOMEN’S
CONTRIBUTIONS ARE VALUED
GENDER-BLIND POLICIES AND DATA
UNDERMINE WOMEN’S CONTRIBUTIONS
SOCIETY AND THE ENVIRONMENT BENEFIT
WHEN WOMEN ARE EMPOWERED
• Count women and make them visible
• Increase funding to gender hundredfold
• Support women’s
empowerment
• Collaborate on gender
CIFT initiatives
• Women and Men Groups
• Improvements in traditional methods
• Value addition
• Group dynamics
• Market studies and test marketing
• Business Incubation
Thank you

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Dr. Nikita Gopal, Central Institute of Fisheries Technology, Aug 10, 2020

  • 1. Women in post harvest fisheries : undervalued and unrecognized Nikita Gopal Principal Scientist ICAR-Central Institute of Fisheries Technology Cochin, Kerala, India & Vice Chair Gender in Aquaculture & Fisheries Section of the Asian Fisheries Society Virtual Consultation on “Science for Resilient Food, Nutrition and Livelihoods: Contemporary Challenges” Session “Post-harvest markets and supply chains” ICAR-Central Institute of Fisheries Technology
  • 2. Outline • Situate the women in fisheries • Why we should be looking at gender • What needs to be done
  • 4.
  • 5. Source: FAO India’s contribution : 12.59 million tonnes
  • 6. WHERE ARE THE WOMEN SITUATED
  • 7.
  • 8. • Traditionally, fishing industry has a man’s face • But women’s efforts also are behind every bite of fish we taste. – fish production would not be possible – fish processing and delivery to the consumer would not function – and households would have less access to fish and food
  • 9. • FAO - 120 million in capture fisheries of which 50% are women • Primary sector alone - 59.5 million (fisheries and aquaculture) - women about 14% in marine and 20% in inland sectors – Even in harvest, especially in small scale fisheries, a lot of women are actually involved. • Dominate post harvest – Post-harvest again includes very diverse activities and if the sub-sectoral activities are looked at, in processing about 90% are women and 60% of all fish sellers in Asia and Africa are women
  • 10. Post-harvest fisheries comprises the activities that take place from the time the fish is landed or harvested until it is consumed. Post-harvest fisheries embraces the cultural, environmental, economic, institutional, social, technical and marketing aspects of the supply, demand, preservation, processing and distribution of fish and fish products. Source: POST-HARVEST FISHERIES A Manual of Information and Guidelines for NGOs and Development Agencies Working with Artisanal Fishing Communities, DFID Department for International Development Post-Harvest Fisheries Project
  • 11. Fishing vessels Landing Centre/ Harbour Large Scale Traders/ Wholesalers/ Retailers Agents of seafood processors Procuring for drying/curing Wholesale markets Retail Markets Other markets Pre-Processing Processing Curing/ Drying Fish Meal/ Oil
  • 12. • Look at women in post harvest fisheries from the resource and technology point of view
  • 13. • When fish was landed near the fishing villages on beaches, women had better access to work and the resource for multiple uses. • Traditionally a portion of the catch was also taken for household consumption, which in a way went a long way in ensuring protein availability to the coastal communities.
  • 14. • They also had enough fish to feed the family and when fresh fish was not available relied on the processed fish for the same Women have also traditionally been involved in shore based activities like sorting of the catch, marketing it in interior areas, processing excess catch using traditional methods like drying, smoking, fermenting.
  • 15. • Changes in the ways fish is harvested has also brought about changes in women’s tenure rights, which primarily included their access to the landed resource. • With landings shifting to harbours, women are no longer able to access fish easily for other activities like marketing. • Their access to far off harbours and landing centres is also difficult due to increased distances and costs to be incurred in what was otherwise a walk from their homes.
  • 16.
  • 17. • Women now have to source fish for marketing from other traders. • Ingenuity in pooling resources to hire vehicles for purchase and for reaching points of sale is seen. • This is one way of reducing costs and sharing risks.
  • 18. • Women fish sellers usually still depend on spaces in markets or sell door-to-door. • Traditional marketing spaces are also being lost due to new players coming in to control market activities. • Markets are auctioned by local bodies and the bidder often decides the renting out of spaces, and the vantage points need not be necessarily given to women.
  • 19. • Traditional processing activities like Sun drying
  • 20. • Several technology solutions to improve quality like simple raised platforms using locally available material; or • solar or other driers can be popularised through targeted schemes
  • 21. • Women in the North East region of the country ferment fish. • Smoking is practiced in widely in states like Odisha, West Bengal and some parts of Andhra besides the NE. • Lakshadweep which is famous for smoked tuna. All these traditional processing activities have dual advantages, as sources of income and for household food and nutritional security.
  • 22. • The commercial seafood processing brings in about Rs. 46600 crores as foreign exchange to the country with about 1.38 million tons of seafood being exported. • Almost all of this is contributed by women as the entire work force at the floor level in factories is women.
  • 23. WHEN SO PRE-DOMINANT , WHY THE INVISIBILITY
  • 24. • Little say over the benefits available to them and receive little support in their fish work • Practical and long-term needs are often neglected • Weak bargaining power to change their situation due to historical gender biases normalized in the workplace and society
  • 25. • Gender inequality affects – food and financial security – personal safety – family nutrition – stability of whole communities. • Worsening - industry experiences pressure to minimize labour costs and leans toward fishing and aquaculture practices that degrade the environment and fish stocks • Vicious cycle of worsening environmental and social conditions on which all women and men depend
  • 26. • Work , not considered work in the economic sense • Seen just as an extension of their household responsibilities
  • 27. • This lack of recognition for her work and her work place results in work place challenges going unrecognised as well. – Markets tend to be unhygienic and women often lack basic facilities (even a toilet) • Compared to men, women selling similar fish often receive lower prices for their wares. The expectation is that women are satisfied just to be employed.
  • 28. • Women vendors face increased competition from men, large companies, and women. • Working in inadequate processing, drying and fish handling spaces without access to clean water, they lack the political power to improve occupational conditions. • The building of modern markets, offices and apartments is squeezing fisherwomen out of their former vending sites, with newer spaces often rented out to bigger, predominantly male operators.
  • 29. • Safety at work is another serious concern. • This is a basic right that the constitution guarantees under Right to Work. However this is a continuing issue for women in fisheries, which has not got the attention it deserves.
  • 30. • Women selling fresh fish are not allowed to use public transport in several states. They have been pushed and jostled out when they have attempted to. • Women selling in markets also face abuse, both verbal and physical.
  • 31. • Women in seafood processing -physical discomfort work environment • Wages - piece rate and depend on the volume processed • Involvement of women in decision-making is very important for this.
  • 32. • Participation can be constrained by social and cultural factors prevalent in societies. • There may be laws that are discriminatory. • Tenure rights are not clear and women’s rights will be the first to go when we saw access to fish being lost when fishing became mechanised. • Access to capital is problematic as schemes tend to be myopic in its vision. – How do we bring in the whole gamut of activities under schemes? – Why do we only think of alternative livelihood options like tailoring or some other such domestic sort of work when we talk of women? – Why can’t they be entrepreneurs of other kinds?
  • 33. • Policies and investments tend to be gender blind • Globally policies have only now begun adding terms like gender equality into instruments (SDGs, SSFG) • The CCRF (1995) - does not mention women and gender. • SDG 14 (Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources) does not reference SDG #5 (Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls).
  • 34. • Policy - increase exports, modernize and intensify production, and establish offshore farming. • Gender is not taken into account when transforming catch-to-consumer fisheries operations by consolidating, scaling up, centralizing and automating operations, which have many of the roles that women play— like manual fish processing and small-scale marketing • Women left without work - skills and assets are not upgraded to adapt to changes like new processing technologies
  • 35. • Data gaps (lack of sex-disaggregated data) • In 2016, FAO fisheries and aquaculture employment statistics were broken out by sex for the first time. • From 2009-2014, only 27 % of FAO Member countries reported sex-differentiated employment data for fisheries. Only 33 % reported them for aquaculture.
  • 36. • Pandemic has brought a separate set of issues –Livelihoods – what about fisherwomen livelihoods –New normals – how will they impact women’s work –Increased domestic violence, stress
  • 37. THE FISH SECTOR WINS WHEN WOMEN’S CONTRIBUTIONS ARE VALUED GENDER-BLIND POLICIES AND DATA UNDERMINE WOMEN’S CONTRIBUTIONS SOCIETY AND THE ENVIRONMENT BENEFIT WHEN WOMEN ARE EMPOWERED
  • 38. • Count women and make them visible • Increase funding to gender hundredfold • Support women’s empowerment • Collaborate on gender
  • 39. CIFT initiatives • Women and Men Groups • Improvements in traditional methods • Value addition • Group dynamics • Market studies and test marketing • Business Incubation