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Inicio  /  Environments  /  Vol: 6 Núm: 1 Par: January (2019)  /  Artículo

Inclusive Ecosystems? Women?s Participation in the Aquatic Ecosystem of Lake Malawi

Joseph Nagoli    
Lucy Binauli and Asafu Chijere    


Ecosystem services and their role in alleviating poverty are centered on a set of gendered social relations. The understanding of these relations between men and women in aquatic ecosystems can unveil gender-based opportunities and constraints along the value chains of the ecosystem services. A gender discourse perspective on participation of actors of an ecosystem can further facilitate the understanding of the complex and subtle ways in which gender is represented, constructed, and contested. This paper analyses the barriers to the participation of women in the fishing industry. The analysis is based on a study conducted in five fishing villages of Lake Malawi through a structured questionnaire, focus group discussions, key informant interviews, and observations. First, it looks at gender and participation from a theoretical perspective to explain how gender manifests itself in participation and interrogates why women have limited benefits from the fishing industry. Second, it highlights the barriers that seem to preclude women from participating, which include institutional embedded norms, financial, socio-cultural, and reproduction roles. In general, women had little influence on the type of fishing sites, markets, and access to financing of their businesses. A gender transformative agenda is therefore required to proactively facilitate changes of some entrenched institutional norms as well as having greater access to financial services and new technologies in order to enhance women’s full participation and equal benefits from ecosystem services.

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