Women fish traders on the Kenyan coast: Livelihoods, bargaining power, and participation in management

Naomi Matsue, Tim Daw, Lucy Garrett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)


Although gender plays a key role in mediating social relations and livelihood dynamics in fisheries, women's roles have received little attention in many fisheries. Mama karanga are women on the Kenyan coast who buy and process fish for local markets from small-scale fishermen. Mama karanga provide a link between the fishery and poor fish consumers, but are also vulnerable to changes in the fishery due to a lack of education, alternative livelihoods, and capital. Despite their dependence on the fishery and potential importance for food security, mama karanga have been little studied, and this article presents a description of their livelihood and a contribution to the growing literature on gender, fisheries and natural resource management. The livelihoods framework is used to organize information on mama karanga's bargaining power and participation in fisheries management. Bargaining power and access to fish is determined mostly by financial capital, the level of fish catches, and social capital, including complex relations with each other, and fishermen. While mama karanga are aware of fisheries management issues, their active participation is limited due to lack of assets and highly imbalanced gender power relations. In order to integrate important actors such as mama karanga, fisheries governance needs to expand in scope and address gender-based barriers to participation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)531-554
Number of pages24
JournalCoastal Management
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2014


  • fisheries
  • gender
  • governance
  • vulnerability
  • coastal livelihoods

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