Women and social cohesion in coastal communities
Worldwide, women play a range of roles in fisheries, making significant contributions to the industry. However, the role of women in European fisheries has largely remained unnoticed, or under noticed, by policy makers and the general public, in spite of their presence in all areas of the sector.
The GIFS research on women and social cohesion in coastal fishing communities has identified very rich activities that require interconnectedness between people in towns. This interconnectedness acts as a catalyst for positive change and cohesiveness in societies and supports the social fabric in the historic fishing towns of Arnemuiden (1) and Breskens (2) in the Netherlands; Concarneau (3)and Douarnenez (4) in France; Flanders (5) in Belgium, Newlyn (6), Wells-next-the Sea (7) and Cromer (8) in England.
During our research into the social and cultural values of fishing towns and communities we have identified the social, economic and cultural roles played by women and assessed their contribution to the sustainability of coastal communities. A total number of 105 interviews were carried out in the four countries (England: 29; France: 29; Belgium: 14; Netherlands: 33) in 2012 and 2013. Most (no=82, 78%) of the interviewees were women but a number of men (no=23, 22%) also participated in the study as partners, co-workers or managers of women. The majority of these participants were in the age groups of 25-50 (no=40, 38%) and 51-65 (no=30, 29%).
The contribution of women to the social bonds in their fishing communities is found offshore as well as onshore, in roles such as (fish) catching , trading , processing , tourism/heritage , education , policy , household and administration/management .
By playing an active role in these domains women contribute significantly to the cohesiveness and sustainability of fishing communities. Examples can be found on our interactive map and a full report on the research findings will provide an insight into women’s activities and roles within their fishing towns. It is intended to inform policy makers, academics, professionals and practitioners as well as the general public at the European, national and local levels.