Women's unpaid labor in the small scale fisheries sector in Malaysia

Recent studies have shown that women are actively involved in the small scale fisheries sector in Malaysia working very often without pay in the family businesses. Activities carried out by women include small-scale fish processing, net mending, cleaning and gutting fish, fish vending, feed preparation and feeding fish in aquaculture projects. Planners and policy makers must recognize the unpaid work for women so that the needs of women will not be left behind in development planning. When women performing unpaid work are not considered in the official workforce statistics, planners may misconstrue the true situation in a community. For example, planners may give low priority to building a government subsidized, child-care centre in a fishing community where women were not recorded officially as part of the workforce, even though they have put in many hours of hard work in the family businesses. Women may also be deprived of opportunities to take bank loans to start their small businesses and may miss out on opportunities for self-improvement because of wrongful classification and discrimination. When women's labour is not accounted for, fish will inevitably be sold at a subsidized price at the expense of the fisher. This paper examines the position of the unpaid women's workforce in the small-scale fisheries sector in Malaysia, and its implications to the fishers and their families. It also examines ways of how unpaid labour can be valuated.


Choo, P.S. (2004)
In: Frangoudes, K, J.J. Pascual-Fernández (eds.) Proceedings on women in fisheries and aquaculture: lessons from the past, current actions and ambitions for the future pp. 56-63