Women's Participation in Community Fisheries Committees in Cambodia

Pelle Gätke

Studenteropgave: Speciale


In a context of widespread poverty and pressure on natural resources, the Cambodian government has launched community management of the fisheries resource. In a generally male dominated political and socio-cultural sphere in Cambodia, few women partake in the local management of the fisheries resources. Through empirical investigations carried out in the Tonle Sap region, women’s participation in Community Fisheries Committees (CFCs) is examined. This is done with regard to the development potential of their participation, as well as the likely future participation of women in CFCs. The investigations reveal that women’s participation strengthens and improves the work of the CFCs in the areas of participation, communication, awareness, good governance and enforcement. In addition women address social issues, including immediate livelihood needs of the poor. These contributions show significant consistency with areas found important in relation to achieving the objectives of the Sub-Decree of Community Fisheries Management. Despite the emergence of a political framework, formally ensuring women equal right to participate, in practice things change slowly. Women are strongly underrepresented in CFCs, and therefore their strengths and skills, in relation to the above mentioned areas of management, are only sporadically applied. Explanations for this by and large relate to cultural and traditional patterns, which are generally found to be in-conducive to women’s participation in the political landscape. However, women’s participation in politics is on the rise, with still more women being elected at commune council elections, as well as at village level CFC elections. As a consequence of women’s participation in CFCs, villagers’ perception of their ability to carry out work in the committees is changing, as they witness that women can contribute significantly. It is the firm belief of the author that in general the participating women will continue to contribute favourably, thereby changing the perceptions among men and women further, towards acceptance of women in public decision-making. This will make it more difficult for existing power structures to ignore the development potential of women’s participation. However, it can be expected that CFs will develop at an uneven pace, because the personal integrity of the men and women who participate in each separate CFC is very important, as is the general power structure in the single village and in the surrounding area.

UddannelserTekSam - miljøplanlægning, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Kandidat
Udgivelsesdato12 sep. 2008
VejledereSøren Lund & Henning Schroll


  • Cambodia, Community Fisheries; Women’s Participation; Sustainable Fisheries Resource Management; Poverty Reduction; Gender Equality and Local Resource Management