KOCHI: Globalisation and its appetite for cheap input have badly affected fisherwomen who are already grossly underpaid when compared to men in the sector or are unpaid, a report of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, published on Tuesday has observed.
In the sector, with its still prevalent Old Boys’ Club behaviour, globalisation benefited some people from new emerging work and business opportunities, but “for various reasons women tend to win less than men, and sometimes tend to be even left behind,” it said. The report, part of the GLOBEFISH Research Programme of the FAO, prepared by economist Marie Christine Monfort, draws attention to the skewed gender priorities existing in all levels in the global fishing sector.
After trawling data and reports from across the globe, the report says that the ongoing global changes are altering drastically the sharing of human, financial and natural resources on a worldwide scale, with a disproportionate effect on women. Research carried out on this topic indicates that women in coastal areas depending on seafood as a source of revenue or a source of food are particularly affected by these changes. They have little or no access to resources allowing them to face adverse external events as they do not receive the same public support as men.
One in two seafood workers is a woman. But in countries like Nigeria (73 per cent), India (72 pc) and Cambodia (57 pc) women contribute more than half of the total workforce in the sector. In the industrial fishing segment, women run various tasks related to the occupation of their husbands or partners from boat cleaning, net mending, book keeping, managing the business etc. Non-declared, not paid in most cases, the indispensable but invisible participation raises the question of woman’s employment status, Marie Christine Monfort states.
Women workers are preferred all over the world in the sea food processing industry (In India women represent 70 per cent of the total labour force in the seafood processing) because they are perceived trustworthy, dedicated, meticulous, flexible, compliant, quality minded and cheaper than men. Despite high productivity and efficiency, they are paid lower wages! Worse, low wages coexist with working conditions sometimes bordering blatant exploitation, little or no welfare and social security. Women are invisible in the upper level of the industry as well. “Like oxygen in mountains, women in seafood business are rare with altitude,” the report says. It asserts that women are excluded from decision levels.