Fisheries sector needs to care for women workers: study

June 25th, 2008 - 8:04 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 25 (IANS) The fisheries sector in India, the sixth largest in the world and growing rapidly, employs a majority of women workers who put as much work as their male counterparts. But they get paid less wages and their health is not good, says a study. The study, conducted by the Centre for Social Research (CSR) and supported by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), analysed the impact of trade and globalisation on women in the fisheries sector in two states - Gujarat and Kerala.

The ratio of men to women working in the fisheries sector, which employs around 11 million people, is 1:3. Yet when it comes to their basic pay, the men earn around Rs.560 per month while the women earn just Rs.289.

“Although the export of marine products achieved a record 12 percent increase in volume and 11 percent increase in US dollars, the increase in stress and workload in the fisheries industry is not translating into better wages or healthy working conditions for women workers.

“Women are as efficient as men. However, their earnings are not always the same,” the study said.

Women, the study said, play an important role in the fisheries sector, especially in the processing of fish catch, preparing fish and fish derived foods such as fish paste and cakes.

The study shows that a large number of women in the fish processing sector are migrant workers who are extremely vulnerable to exploitation.

Of the sample of 305 workers, 275 were women. Among the women, 239 respondents entered the fishery sector as their first step in labour market and are still continuing to work there. Tbis indicates high absorption capacity and low skill requirement of this sector, the study said.

Ranjana Kumari of CSR said: “Where social security is concerned, women workers are hardly aware of schemes which can improve their condition.”

“Though the potential of the sector has been recognized, no concrete policy or legislative changes have taken place to give the required impetus to the sector. This sector needs improved infrastructure, technological up-gradation and strong policies to address the needs of workers, especially women in this sector,” Kumari added.

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