Fish farmers, Zambia. Photo by Chosa Mweemba.

Gender research in FISH

Women and men are farmers, fishers, and value chain actors in low income countries and people of both (and all) genders make critical contributions throughout fish agri-food systems, from enabling sustainable production, to climate resilience through to driving economic growth, poverty reduction, and improving nutrition. Yet, women - and especially women who are from marginalized socio-economic groups - generally have less voice in decision making and face more severe constraints than men in accessing information, financial and technical services, innovations, and markets. Even when women do have access to physical or financial assets, control over these assets may be gendered in favour of men. Underlying barriers, such as constraining norms around gendered division of labour and who is seen as a leader and innovator, mean that women tend to be disproportionally represented in unpaid and lower-return roles, face additional barriers to opportunities and do not benefit equally with men from being part of fish agri-food systems. The COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbates pre-existing social and gender inequalities – as will future food system shocks including climate stressors – unless accurately understood and effectively addressed.

In line with the FISH Gender Strategy, the research program fully integrates gender within its flagship research on aquaculture and small-scale fisheries. This is facilitated through shared FISH gender integration strategies designed to be applied throughout the Research for Development (R4D) project cycle. FISH supports gender integration with the innovative use of theory of change processes around gender. Gender integration is anchored by gender expertise across FISH countries, backed by commitment at the highest levels of the program and continuous interdisciplinary engagement.

To complement gender integration and drive innovation, FISH carries out strategic research on gender within and across both FISH flagships. This gender strategic research generates reliable new methods and knowledge, as well as innovative and scalable solutions to overcome gender barriers in fish agri-food systems. The research focuses on the three main pathways of: gender-responsive and inclusive innovation in technologies and practices; innovation for inclusive, equitable, and empowering livelihoods and wealth generation; and, innovation for inclusive, equitable, and empowering governance and agri-food systems.

Amongst its landmark contributions, FISH is a pioneer in gender transformative approaches (GTA). As such, FISH research complements and goes beyond business-as-usual gender accommodative approaches. Rather than seeking short-term solutions, FISH critically examines and engages with factors underlying unequal gender dynamics, in particular gender norms and associated practices that constrain gender equality. In doing so, FISH seeks to identify investments in policy and practice and influence changes in institutions to those that engages both women and men, creating opportunities for contextually-appropriate and locally-informed, lasting shifts towards gender equality.

Through its high-quality investments in gender integration and strategic research, FISH facilitates food and nutrition security and enhanced livelihood and environmental outcomes through enabling gender equity and equality and women’s empowerment. At the same time, FISH recognizes women’s empowerment and gender equality as essential goals in and of themselves – and thus leverages the unique and potent opportunities of aquaculture and small-scale fisheries to contribute to the momentum towards the Sustainable Development Goals, namely SDG 5 - Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment and SDG 14 - Life below Water.

Gender focus within FISH flagships

Recent Publications

Recommended reads


Blogposts and Bulletins

Events and presentations

  • Gender and small-scale fisheries: Systemic failure of sexist data

    17th July 2020 COFI34 Virtual Dialogue by IHH Gender team.

  • Webinar: Towards Ocean Equity

    World class experts introduce new research examining the role of equity in securing a sustainable ocean economy – one that puts people at the center.

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  • Measuring Gender-Transformative Change in Agriculture: A review of the literature and promising practices

    Gender inequalities are recognized as both a major driver of poverty and an impediment to agricultural development. Understanding complex processes of social change remains a critical challenge..

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  • A Gender Transformative Approach: Why what and how?

    This presentation was given by Cynthia McDougall (WorldFish Center), as part of the Annual Scientific Conference hosted by the University of Canberra and co-sponsored by the University of Canberra, the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and CGIAR Collaborative Platform for Gender Research. The event took place on April 2-4, 2019 in Canberra, Australia.

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  • Contesting gender: The translation of gender commitments into action in small-scale fisheries in the Pacific Islands

    This presentation was given by Sarah Lawless (ARC Centre for Coral Reef Studies), as part of the Annual Scientific Conference hosted by the University of Canberra and co-sponsored by the University of Canberra, the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and CGIAR Collaborative Platform for Gender Research. The event took place on April 2-4, 2019 in Canberra, Australia.

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  • Measuring gender transformative change: Frameworks, Characteristics, Methodologies

    In this presentation to the 'Joint Program on Gender Transformative Approaches to Food Security & Nutrition, Inception Workshop' (Rome, May 6-8, 2019), Dr Cynthia McDougall outlines some key ideas to guide measuring gender transformative change.

  • Gender Transformative Approaches: Strategies and Emerging Outcomes

    Presentation by WorldFish Gender team at Global Conference on Gender in Aquaculture & Fisheries held on 18-21 October 2018 in Bangkok, Thailand

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  • Gender Equity, Equality and Development: Beyond Zero Sum

    As the world progresses towards an uncertain future, the assumptions we have are incredibly important to consider. Join Cynthia McDougall in an exploration of Zero Sum situations where one must lose for another to gain in the areas of gender equality, and how the future changes everything.

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Publications coming soon

Watch this space to learn more about some of our forthcoming publications in gender.

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