Asian Fisheries Society

Avoiding Pitfalls in Development Projects that Aspire to Empower Women: A Review of the Asian Fisheries Society Gender and Fisheries Symposium Papers


Many papers from the five Asian Fisheries Society (AFS) women/gender symposia reported on efforts to empower women but not on the underlying empowerment premises. To better understand women's empowerment, we chose to define the root word "power" based on feminist development literature. We then used the Longwe Women's Empowerment Framework to assess how each project from the 20 papers selected from the AFS women/gender symposia, has contributed to the process of women’s empowerment. This framework proposes five levels of empowerment - welfare, access, conscientisation, mobilisation and control. Our results showed that most of the projects described in the selected papers achieved empowerment at the welfare or welfare to access levels, and in some cases the achievement at a fragile access level had reverted back to the welfare level. Our findings thus showed that women are still far from being able to define their own needs and priorities and to control resources which may help them to challenge their subordinate positions. In the fishery sector, feminist concepts of empowerment, which should have a place at the core of women’s empowerment efforts, have been avoided. Unless women in the fisheries sector are able to construct a collective self to define and defend their gender needs, the control level of empowerment will remain far beyond their reach.

Publication Date : 2014-12-15

Volume : 27

Issue : Special Gender in Aquaculture and Fisheries: Navigating Change

Page : 15-31

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Date 2014/12/15
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