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How gender counts in small-scale fisheries

Gender is a concept that deals with the roles and relationships between women and men that are determined by social, political and economic contexts – not by biology. Unequal power relations between women and men in many cultures mean that women are disadvantaged in terms of their control over resources, their access to services as well as in their ability to take advantage of new opportunities and deal with ongoing changes affecting their lives. Gender policies are needed to address these issues. 

In small-scale fisheries, development policies have traditionally targeted women as fish processors. Womens’ groups typically received improved ovens or credit. Fisheries-related development activities have engaged men as exploiting, and sometimes managing, resources whereas women have been excluded from planning ‘mainstream’ fisheries activities. 

So far, the implications of women’s lower status in relation to men for achieving positive and sustainable change have not been examined in policy-making, although the social and economic repercussions of such policies are significant.

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