CHENNAI: Fisherwomen are now creating waves by raising demands for equal rights to the sea and coast like men. They want them to be treated on par with men in all government entitlements and social security measures for the fishing community, recognition of their labour in the fish trade and participation in the discussions on the Coastal Regulation Zone 1991 notification.
After keeping quite for so long, despite their substantial contribution to the fishing industry, they highlighted the prevailing discrimination against women in the fish trade at a day-long deliberation, organised as part of the Rural Women’s Day in Chennai on Tuesday by the National Coastal Women’s Movement (NCWM), a network of women from the coastal villages of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh.
Speaking to reporters, S Samundeeswari, convener of NCWM, said, “Though women constitute the largest chunk of fisherfolk workforce in the country, we never get equal rights as our male counterparts.” According to an estimate, women engaged in fishing related activities constitute 65 per cent of the workforce at the national level. In Tamil Nadu, it is 55 per cent. “Men’s role starts at the shore and ends at the shore with their fish operation.
The rest of the work like selling and processing is done by women,” said one of the representatives from a southern coastal district.
“But whenever the government talks about fishermen rights, they just stop at men and never looked beyond the point,” she said.
In the course of a signature campaign in five coastal states, NCWM activists found that most of the women said that they were marginalised and wanted equal rights to the sea and the coast.
More than 300 women representatives from different parts of the State took part in the deliberations and demanded government recognition for fisherwomen as workers engaged in fishing activities.
With the memorandum seeking equal rights for fisherwomen, NCWM has planned to meet Union Environment and Forest Minister Jairam Ramesh, Chief Minister M Karunanidhi and Governor Surjit Singh Barnala.