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Transforming aquatic agricultural systems towards gender equality: a five country review

Weeratunge, N., Chiuta, T.M., Choudhury, A., Ferrer, A., Hüsken, S.M.C., Kura, Y., Kusakabe, K., Madzudzo, E.,
Maetala, R., Naved, R., Schwarz, A., and Kantor, P. (2012). CGIAR Research Program on Aquatic Agricultural Systems. Penang, Malaysia. Working Paper: AAS-2012-21.
 
Aquatic agricultural systems (AAS) are systems in which the annual production dynamics of freshwater and/or coastal ecosystems contribute significantly to total household income. Improving the livelihood security and wellbeing of the estimated 250 million poor people dependent on AAS in Bangladesh, Cambodia, the Philippines, the Solomon Islands and Zambia1 is the goal of the Worldfish Center-led Consortium Research Program (CRP), “Harnessing the development potential of aquatic agricultural systems for development.” One component expected to contribute to sustainably achieving this goal is enhancing the gender and wider social equity of the social, economic and political systems within which the AAS function.
 
The CRP’s focus on social equity, and particularly gender equity, responds to the limited progress to date in enhancing the inclusiveness of development outcomes through interventions that offer improved availability of resources and technologies without addressing the wider social constraints that marginalized populations face in making use of them. The CRP aims to both offer improved availability and address the wider social constraints in order to determine whether a multi-level approach that engages with individuals, households and communities, as well as the wider social, economic and political contexts in which they function, is more successful in extending development’s benefits to women and other excluded groups. Designing the research in development initiatives to test this hypothesis requires a solid understanding of each CRP country’s social, cultural and economic contexts and of the variations across them. This paper provides an initial input into developing this knowledge, based on a review of literature on agriculture, aquaculture and gender relations within the five focal countries. Before delving into the findings of the literature review, the paper first justifies the expectation that successfully achieving lasting wellbeing improvements for poor women and men dependent on AAS rests in part on advances in gender equity, and in light of this justification, presents the AAS CRP’s conceptual framework for gender and social analysis.