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Women's participation and leadership in fisherfolk organizations and collective action in fisheries: a review of evidence on enablers, drivers and barriers












Alonso-Población, E. and Siar, Susana V. 2018. Women's participation and leadership in fisherfolk organizations and collective action in fisheries: a review of evidence on enablers, drivers and barriers. FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Circular No. 1159. Rome, FAO.


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    This paper explores aspects of promoting rural women’s leadership in producers’ organizations (POs). Despite the vast amount of work that women perform in the agriculture sector, their role remains largely unrecognized. The concerns and issues of women farmers are scarcely heard at the local, national and global levels. One reason for this silence is that there are not enough women in leadership positions to be able to represent the interests of rural women. This shortage is compounded by women’ s lack of voice in decision-making processes at all levels − from households to rural organizations − and in policymaking. Ensuring that women have a greater voice is not only a matter of gender equality. Women’s leadership, especially in POs, is essential for increasing the production of smallholder agriculture, as women make massive contributions to the sector. Women leaders can advocate for women’s better access to and control over assets and productive inputs, thus boosting their productivit y and incomes, leading to food security and increasing their employment opportunities and real wages. This paper has three main purposes: (i) to identify relevant aspects that relate to the promotion of rural women’s leadership within POs; (ii) to identify related good practices that are implemented by IFAD, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and their partners; and (iii) to present key messages and recommendations for guiding the design and implementation of inte rventions in support of women’s leadership. The analysis is clustered around the following three dimensions: 1) PO environment 2) PO arrangements and mechanisms 3) Individual capacities and behaviours.
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    This report presents findings and recommendations for a study, which was commissioned by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Subregional Office for Southern Africa with the support of the GCP/RAF/466/EC SmartFish Project. Its objective was to obtain a better assessment of the role and situation of women in Lake Kariba fisheries following frame surveys undertaken by Zambia and Zimbabwe in 2011, with the support of FAO. The field study was carried out from 26 August t o 2 September 2012. Data collection methods used included literature review, in-depth interviews, focus group discussions and observations. The findings from the study included the following: The authorities responsible for fisheries in Zambia and Zimbabwe do not have strategies to enable the equitable exploitation and use of Lake Kariba resources by women and men. The fisheries policies, documents and practices do not consider the differential position, situation and needs of women and men. The Fisheries Authorities have not kept sex disaggregated records for the people they have given permits. There has not been much coordination and consultation between the Fisheries Authorities and the Ministries of Women’s Affairs which are gender institutional mechanisms mandated to mainstream gender and women’s empowerment in economies of both countries including in fisheries activities. The involvement of women in fisheries activities has been negligible as a result of a variety of reasons such as difficulties in getting both artisanal and kapenta fishing permits; lack of capital to buy fishing gear; cultural hindrances which do not allow women to fish, swim or bath in the Lake; gender stereotypes which consider women as weaker vessels; fear on the part of women to go in the Lake and security risks associated with fishing in the Lake. Women are often involved in fishing methods on the shore or shallow water such as angling. Women have actively been involved in post-harvest activities such as fish marketing, drying and processing. Fishers’ spouses and other women are often involved in the management of fishing operations such as record-keeping, finance management and preparations for fishing trips. Specific women’s concerns and needs are not addressed at the Fisher Associations level in both countries. Women in both countries are not actively involved nor are they meaningfully represented in key governance processes of fisheries of Lake Kariba.

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