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
Gender & breeding
Gender lens on alternative fish feeds
Gender in aquaculture value chains, including women’s empowerment
Resilient small-scale fisheries
Closing gender data gaps in small-scale fisheries
Inclusive community-based resource management and governance
Inclusive fish-rice (integrated) systems
Gender in small-scale fisheries value chains, including women’s empowerment
Gender transformative approaches
Bespoke gender methodologies and tools
Gender and the Blue Economy
Gender dynamics and norms
Gender-inclusive livelihoods and markets, including women’s entrepreneurship
Gender integration and research quality
Gender and COVID-19, climate and other food system shocks