Belgium Flanders Women
5. Flanders (Belgium)
Belgium has a small coast of 65km long located in the province of West-Flanders. It is generally a flat region near the North Sea and it is known for its prosperity and wealth. Flanders has an area of 13.522 km2 and a population of around 6 million inhabitants. Life expectancy for men is around 76 years and for women 82 and over 43% of people aged between 30 and 34 years have a higher education qualification. The region is known for its high‐quality social protection system, this includes child care for families in need, affordable low rent-housing and a social housing scheme. The main activities in the cities are trade and commerce while in the countryside, due to the fertile soil, agricultural activities take place. However Flemish agriculture only represents 1.5% of the GDP and the coast is central to seafood industry.
The Flemish are well known for being hard workers and in general terms people are satisfied with their job. Most of the population has a catholic affiliation, however the numbers of church attendants are diminishing.
Considering the small size of the Belgian coast, towns were selected on the basis of accessibility, historical and contemporary relation to fishing activities, current catch and fishing heritage. As such the research took place in the towns of Ostend, Nieuwpoort, and Koksijde-Oostduinkerke.
- Oostende originated as a fishing village in the 9th century. It is currently a city and municipality located in West-Flanders with a population of more than 70,000 inhabitants. Fish used to be the major source of income for the inhabitants. Nowadays, the fishing heritage can be observed in the food markets along the main street and in the fish market where a few boats are still allowed to sell fresh fish directly to the buyer without going to the auction. These boats sail on a daily basis and the sale of fish is mainly done by family members, often women.
- Koksijde-Oostduinkerke is a municipality located in the province of West Flanders, with a population of around 9,000 inhabitants. Oostduinkerke is the only site in Europe where horseback shrimping is practised: a 500 years old method of catching shrimp on horseback, it has been recognised by UNESCO as an activity that represents an intangible cultural heritage. Nowadays it is more of a tourist attraction and women take part in the cooking of the shrimps. It is a clear example of fishery folklore developed by 12 households. The fishing heritage and history of the region is also reflected in the Oostduinkerke fishing museum where many women contribute to the promotion of the fishery tradition . For more information visit the website of Koksijde.
- Nieuwpoort. For more information about Nieuwpoort read following article. The research found no group or association of women around the subject of fishing, however, women’s participation in the activity was evident.
- Population per municipality on 1 January 2013: http://statbel.fgov.be/nl/binaries/pop2010-2013mov_nl_tcm325-234223.xls Retrieved on 10th August 2014.
- http://www.flanders.be/en Retrieved on 10th August 2014
- Population per municipality on 1 January 2013: http://statbel.fgov.be/nl/binaries/pop2010-2013mov_nl_tcm325-234223.xls Retrieved 11th August 2014.