Seaweed aquaculture through the lens of gender: Participation, roles, pay and empowerment in Bantayan, Philippines

Elena Mengo, Gaetano Grilli, Joanna M. Murray, Elisa Capuzzo, Rose-Liza Eisma-Osorio, Lenka Fronkova, Jonathan O. Etcuban, Judy Ann Ferrater-Gimena, Annie Tan

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Aquaculture is one of the fastest growing food-producing sectors worldwide. Of particular importance is the cultivation of seaweed, particularly in East and Southeast Asia where seaweeds dominate the production market, and are key for coastal communities both as main livelihood source and as alternative or supplementary income to fisheries. Women play a crucial role in various segments of the seaweed aquaculture value chain; yet few researchers have empirically examined the gendered impacts of women’s participation in aquaculture. Using the case study of Bantayan Island, in the Philippines, the objective of this study is to deepen our understanding of the impact of women’s participation in aquaculture by specifically investigating their roles, remuneration and empowerment related to the production node of seaweed aquaculture. Adopting a novel research approach, which combines the outcomes of a focus group discussion and the data collected through two questionnaires, we provide a comprehensive and robust understanding of gender issues in aquaculture. Results of the economic analysis of labour costs indicate that women constitute most of the workforce but are paid less than men; the average gender pay gap is 55.4%. Moreover, our study finds that there is a well-established gendered division of labour in seaweed aquaculture. Greater female participation is not mirrored by more women in leadership roles and decision-making power in the workplace, although participation may have a positive impact on female intrahousehold empowerment. An important contribution of our analysis is to show that gender stereotypes in aquaculture production persist and they affect roles, wages and decision-making power. Acknowledging the fundamental contribution of women in aquaculture can inform the development of gender-sensitive indicators, supporting the measurement of progress towards relevant Targets of the fifth Sustainable Development Goal (“ Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls ”), therefore mainstreaming gender into resource management, and poverty alleviation
Original languageEnglish
Article number103025
JournalJournal of Rural Studies
Early online date9 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - May 2023

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