Gender and small-scale fisheries in Africa

Photo: Flickr, Stevie Mann_WorldFish

Fisheries – and small-scale fisheries in particular – contribute significantly to economic and food security in Africa. Women play an important role along the fisheries value chain and in fishing communities. However, their contributions often go unrecognised and therefore unconsidered. 

Women in small-scale fisheries also face specific challenges. They frequently encounter cultural proscriptions against taking on certain types of work and may lack control over their labour and incomes. Their work is often undervalued, and they commonly receive less pay for the same work. Family responsibilities may prevent them from taking full advantage of opportunities in the sector, and they tend to have limited decision-making power in fisheries governance institutions, communities and even their own households.

This policy briefing details some of these challenges and outlines options for addressing them. It also identifies a number of opportunities for enhancing women’s participation in the small-scale fisheries sector, including post-harvest activities (processing and marketing) and aquaculture.