Economic role of women fish vendors in two Philippine fishing villages
Alper-Leroux, Cecile T.
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This study shows that the most significant variables in a fishing household's socioeconomic makeup are a woman's occupation and the possession of a motorized boat. Ethnographic and economic data collected in two Philippine fishing villages reveal that the everyday dynamics of male-female interaction are complex and diverge considerably from the images of women presented in feminist scholarly and literary texts. For example, Philippine feminists hold that women are oppressed in the workplace and that they do not control the elements of their economic livelihood. Yet in this case, the economic and ethnographic data reveal the opposite. Some rural women, particularly the fish vendors, command respect and have a relatively high socioeconomic status created by what they do for themselves and their households. In public, these fish vendors appear to subscribe to a male-dominant ideology but, by doing so, in private they gain personal freedoms. Feminist efforts aimed at consciousness-raising and government social programs cannot be successful if the lives of rural women diverge from the images embodied in these programs. Direct forms of economic aid to rural women in the Philippines, providing them the necessary capital to enter into businesses like fish vending, could better address their economic needs, and in turn empower them in a realistic fashion.