Gender analysis is an essential first step in the process of identifying gender barriers in any ongoing or planned programmes. This information can inform better strategies and help develop programmes that are more relevant to the varying needs of men and women in target communities. With that in mind, the ATSEA-2 Project conducted a gender analysis study in Rote Ndao District, then shared its findings with relevant stakeholders at the national and local level.

In most fishing communities, women play a key role and make significant contributions to the industry. However, despite the scale and significance of their contributions, women remain largely overlooked, with little hope of engaging in or benefiting equitably from their respective sectors.

Acknowledging this issue, ATSEA-2 is designed to ensure the participation of women and men with equal standing, in line with the gender equality and social inclusion strategies, guidance and standards of both UNDP and GEF. Gender mainstreaming integration in fisheries and coastal management has been proven to support higher productivity and raise household incomes, as well as delivering positive nutritional outcomes.

ATSEA-2 acknowledges that gender inequities in the marine and fisheries sector are deeply rooted and difficult to resolve. The first steps in the mainstreaming strategy therefore involve an assessment of how and why gender differences and inequalities are relevant to the subject(s), while also identifying opportunities to make positive change through a targeted approach that’s rooted in local context.

The Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF) held a series of comprehensive gender assessments between 2015 and 2016, in order to identify differences and inequities between gender roles, needs, responsibilities and capacities in the management of fisheries and marine resources in Rote Ndao District and the Aru Archipelago. Building on these studies, and with the intention to incorporate the results into a gender mainstreaming work plan, the ATSEA-2 Project conducted its own follow-up gender assessments in Rote Ndao. 

The results of the gender analysis study in Rote Ndao, which was conducted in June 2021, highlighted gender segregation in productive, reproductive and public roles, resulting in imbalanced power relations between women and men, especially in terms of access to marine and fisheries resources. Furthermore, women and men tend to engage in different work in the fisheries sector, with different returns generated.

The study also discovered that women tend to be less involved or included among the authorities and are generally under-represented in local decision-making structures. Compared to their male counterparts, women also struggle to gain access to natural resources, contributing to an imbalance of power that leaves them more vulnerable to the effects of climate change and environmental degradation.

The gender analysis study summarised that women in Rote Ndao are less likely to have individual agency in financial expenditure, but are consigned to traditional homemaking activities; trapped, as it were, ‘between glass ceiling and sticky floor’. In the case of Rote Ndao, this study also scrutinised gender roles in the seaweed growing community, where men and women share the same work but not the same financial independence.

Following the gender analysis, findings were disseminated via a hybrid session held on 27 October 2021. The event was attended by a range of stakeholders from the national and local level, thereby helping to bridge the gap between top management and root offices. Key speakers included representatives from the MMAF and the Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection (MOWECP). The major output of the dissemination session was a participative recommendation from the district offices of Rote Ndao on the need to set up a gender task force in the region, including the establishment of gender focal points in each strategic institution. These institutions could include a finance bureau, planning bodies, inspectorate, women empowerment bodies, marine and fisheries offices, etc.

Following the Joint Agreement (JA) between the MMAF with the MOWECP (No. 06 MEN-KP/III/2011 and No. 12 of 2011 on Improving the Effectiveness of Gender Mainstreaming in Marine and Fisheries sector), the ATSEA-2 Project plans to conduct regular meetings with related stakeholders to activate the gender task force and catalyse gender mainstreaming throughout the region. In addition, capacity building on gender responsive budgeting and planning will also be facilitated, to ensure that gender mainstreaming plays a prominent role in all subsequent programmes.

Gender responsive budgeting and planning does not necessarily mean creating separate budgets for women, or increasing spending for women-focused programme intervention. Rather, it strives to ensure the allocation of resources is carried out in effectively, contributing to the advancement of gender equity. This process should also be based on in-depth assessment, provided by gender analysis that identifies opportunities for intervention that can facilitate women’s participation and break down the gender barrier.

The process of gender-responsive development is built on a strong foundation of understanding, through components that promote various aspects of gender equity. Ultimately, budgets are the building blocks of development in this regard, helping to identify and address gender equity in the programmes. Sufficient and well-targeted resources are therefore essential tools in the successful implementation of ATSEA-2 projects.

(by Laeli Sukmahayani)