Not as Famous as their Bollywood Sisters: Women in Fish Marketing in Maharashtra State

Maharashtra State in India is famous for many things, especially as the home of Bollywood movies with its famous female and male stars. Now, two new studies on women fish vendors in Maharashtra shine small but important spotlights on the women fish vendors of its diverse fish markets. They may not be as famous as their sisters, the Bollywood stars, but they are more interesting to fisheries followers!

One report, published by ICSF, is on women fish vendors in 2 fish markets in Mumbai (“Women Fish Vendors in Mumbai: A Study Report”, by Shuddhawati Peke), and the second is a background study of 3 fish markets by V.P. Vipinkumar and co-authors (“Success case studies of women mobilisation in marine fisheries sector of Maharashtra”).

Mumbai women fish vendors. Source: ICSF

Both reports contain valuable information and can be downloaded for free.

1. Women Fish Vendors in Mumbai: A Study Report

This study explores the trading environment for women in 9 formal and 3 informal fish markets. It explains the Koli ethnic background of most of the fish traders and their fishing villages that have become prime targets for land development in Mumbai’s rapid development. Although sharing many challenges and problems, the formal and informal traders also see each other as competitors and this, and other matters make collective action difficult at any scale. The study explores these complexities with thoroughness, resisting any urge to sugar-coat the issues and opportunities. Read it and learn!

Extracts from the Conclusion:

“…, it is clear that in metros like Mumbai, women vendors, whether formal or informal, are getting affected by development forces. The vendors are caught between private developers, who are looking to develop the markets that are located in prime real estate, and the government authorities who control the markets. Fisherwomen may be the largest women labour force engaged for generations in one business, namely, fish marketing; yet, they are on the verge of extinction due to their inability to regroup and restructure themselves and due to the negligence of the fisheries sector organizations in protecting their interests.

“Small organizations that began with the aim of aiding women vendors were destroyed by in-house corruption or have become divisive over political and economic agendas. The changing face of Mumbai city has impacted the fisherfolk’s way of life; pollution and infrastructure projects on the coast have decimated nearshore fi sheries. The livelihoods of women vendors and processors have been affected by reduced access to resources such as space and clean water. In addition, unemployment among the menfolk in the family has increased the burden on the women. Workplace pressures in the form of sub-optimal working conditions have also added to the health woes of the women vendors.”

Download here

Women in Naigaon Night Fish Market. Source: CMFRI

2. Success case studies of women mobilisation in marine fisheries sector of Maharashtra by Vipinkumar VP,, Shyam S Salim, Deshmukh VD, Raje SG and Paramita B Sawant (of CMFRI and CIFE)

This study had the aim of finding contextual detail to help create positive interventions to help the women traders in Maharashtra, especially through the Self Help Group movement. It covered 3 markets: the Marol Dry Fish Market, the Naigaon Night Fish Market and the women’s Self Help Groups in the Alibag District. It was essential designed as a needs analysis study for designing help programs.

Abstract: “A study was undertaken in the selected locations in the coastal belts of Maharashtra state with a major objective of assessing the demographic characteristics and drawing specific cases of women in marine fisheries sector. The study was carried out in three coastal districts such as Greater Mumbai, Thane and Alibag. Success Case studies of women mobilization were explored from the locations in the above districts such as ‘Marol Dry fish market’ in Greater Mumbai district, ‘Naigaon Night fish market’ in Thane district in and Milkatgar & Navgav locations of Alibag district in Maharashtra. Data collection on demographic characteristics was undertaken with trained enumerators and elucidation of specific success case studies of women in fisheries sector was undertaken on Marol Dry fish market in Versoa of Greater Mumbai district, Naigaon Night fish market in Thane district and Milkatgar & Navgav Women Self Help Groups of Alibag district of Maharashtra state. These strategy developed in these case studies can be used as a practical manual for mobilizing and managing women’s Self Help Groups in any key areas on a sustainable basis. These can be used as case model for promoting group action and group empowerment and for mobilizing women based enterprises in other key areas like Agriculture, Forestry, Floriculture, Agro-based industries, Watershed development etc.”

Download here