Gender strategy

Ship to Shore Rights South East Asia: Gender equality and women’s empowerment strategy

This report sets out the Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Strategy for the Ship to Shore Rights South East Asia programme, which aims to increase the visibility of gender inequality within the fishing and seafood processing sectors and reset it through a gender transformative approach.

Labour migration patterns into the fishing and seafood processing sectors in South-East Asia are highly gendered and include specific decent work deficits faced by women and men. Migrant women comprise the majority of workers in seafood processing largely because employers believe they are better suited for this type of work. However, the application of gendered stereotypes holds negative consequences for the working conditions of women migrants within the industry, including a lack of formalization, unequal pay, violence and harassment, and gaps in maternity protection.

Onshore and offshore fishing vessels are almost entirely crewed by men, a large portion of whom are migrant workers due to the reluctance of nationals to take up fishing work in the more developed countries of South-East Asia. Work in commercial fishing has traditionally been viewed within the region as unsuitable for women, as it involves physically demanding duties, long and unpredictable work hours, hazardous work environments and difficult living conditions. The all-male workforce contributes to the high incidence of workplace injuries within the fishing sector, as social norms requiring men to take greater physical risks at work exacerbate the inherent danger of work on a fishing vessel.

The Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Strategy lays out a clear and concrete approach for the Ship to Shore Rights South East Asia programme and its partners to respond to these sectoral challenges in working conditions. It provides a robust gender analysis of the fishing and seafood processing sectors, highlighting how the issues of labour migration, informality and gender intersect to entrench inequalities and exacerbate decent work deficits. The strategy calls for an ambitious and transformative approach, integrating gender mainstreaming across all types of programme activity, while simultaneously implementing specific activities focused on empowerment of women and LGBTQI+ persons.