Women’s engagement in and outcomes from small-scale fisheries value chains in Malawi: effects of social relations uri icon

abstract

  • Women play an important role within small-scale fishing communities in sub-Saharan Africa through engaging in fish value chain activities and contributing to household food security and income. There is, however, little empirical information about the nature of women's engagement in small-scale fishery value chains and the outcomes of that engagement especially in Malawi, our study country. This study addresses the gap by examining (1) the ways in which women participate in fish value chains; (2) the outcomes of their participation at individual, household, and community level; and (3) how social relations influence the participation and the outcomes obtained. The study adopted a case study approach and draws upon qualitative data from the two small-scale fisheries in Msaka on Lake Malawi and Kachulu on Lake Chilwa. The research applies a social relations approach in the line of Kabeer, in examining women's participation and outcomes of participation within the small-scale fisheries. Our study reveals that women provide significant social and economic benefits to their families and the broader community as they participate as processors and traders with a few participating at the production node as gear owners. The study also finds that women encounter challenges that may have potential to negatively affect their engagement in the small-scale value chains including gender-based discrimination as some women are restricted by their husbands to engage in the intermediary role especially at Kachulu; the few women who join the crew fishing face social exclusions, poor working conditions, care burden that limits women's time to actively participate in value chain activities. The study highlights the social norms associated with hierarchical husband-wife relationships have negative effects on women's participation and the outcomes derived in the value chain activities. This research adds to the body of work that examines issues of social relations and their impacts on the well-being and roles of women in small-scale fisheries.

publication date

  • 2019
  • 2019