Female members of coastal fishing households lack empowerment: Study

Although Bangladesh has made remarkable progress in women’s political empowerment, female members of coastal fishing households are still lagging far behind in terms of empowerment.

COAST Trust, a national NGO, presented this information quoting its a recent study at a press conference held at Dhaka Reporters Unity in the city on Monday.

The COAST Trust conducted the special study by collecting data from 1,200 fishing households in six unions under four upazilas of the three coastal districts of Cox’s Bazar, Bhola, and Bagerhat.

COAST Trust Deputy Executive Director Sanat K Bhowmik moderated the conference. Mostafa Kamal Akand, Director of the organisation, gave the welcome address while Jahirul Islam, Assistant Director of COAST, presented the summary of the study.

President of Bangladesh Krishak Federation Badrul Alam, garments workers leader Saleha Islam Shantona and Joint Director of COAST Trust Md Mujibul Haque Munir also spoke at the press conference.

Jahirul said all the women workers involved in fish processing are getting 25 percent less wages than male workers. Some 31 percent of women of fishing families do not have an opinion on the purchase of family property, 56% of women members do not have an opinion on the general expenditure of the family. On the other hand, only 2% of women members of the fishers families have directly contacted the concerned Union Parishad for any special need and 82% of women have never participated in any arbitration or any other decision-making process of the society.

Moreover, 65% female members of the fishers families are victims of some form of violence.

Mustafa Kamal Akand said that when the coastal fishermen go to sea for fishing, the female members of the family have to take care of the whole family for a few days continuously. Most of these women’s activities are not considered in exchange for money. For this reason, contribution of women in this sector is not yet recognised.

Badrul Alam said that 10-12 percent of those directly and indirectly involved in the fisheries sector are women, but there is no separate information on their contribution. Initiatives are needed in this regard.

Shantana said that although there is no discrimination between men and women in the labour law, women in the fisheries sector are the victims of clear discrimination. Strict laws are required.

Sanat K Bhowmik said, “Bangladesh is the third-largest fish producer in the world. If women’s participation is recognised, it’ll be easier for us to make this achievement sustainable.”

A number of recommendations were made at the press conference such as formulating special policies to identify the contribution of women in the fisheries sector, to involve women members of fishing families in economic activities, to ensure women’s participation in various fisheries programmes, and to implement labour policies for fishermen.

Source: United News of Bangladesh