Fisherwomen and Credit Saving in Mozambique

March 8, 2023 Jesi Carson, Participedia Team
February 5, 2023 Elyse Blondell
January 31, 2023 Elyse Blondell
December 17, 2022 Elyse Blondell

Problems and Purpose

Even though women play in an important role in fisheries, because of sexist cultural norms they are often neglected in management decisions of fisheries (Uduji & Okolo-Obasi, 2020). Despite being heavily involved in fishing communities across Africa, women’s work tends to be different that men’s, and as a result are often disregarded in fisheries research (Uduji & Okolo-Obasi, 2020). Women make up 46% of the fisheries workforce, and are predominantly the ones who sell the fish at markets while men catch the fish (Uduji & Okolo-Obasi, 2020). Additionally, women perform other important activities that make men’s fishing possible, such as transporting fishing equipment and boats, carrying their catch to shore, and mending their fishing gear (Uduji & Okolo-Obasi, 2020). Despite being one of the areas of the highest fisheries employment, catches from subsistence sectors in Mozambique, which women mainly participate in are largely unaccounted for in official data (Harper et al., 2013). Women primarily engage in reef gleaning, which is the collection of invertebrates (shellfish, crabs, octopus, etc.) and fish near the shore (Harper et al., 2013).

Background History and Context

Women’s work in traditional fisheries is also characterized by severely low incomes, high seasonality, and low productivity (UN Women, 2020). Women also have low access to training, markets, and new technology and tend to work in facilities with poor infrastructure which all contribute to women’s obstacles in fishing (UN Women, 2020). Additionally, small-scale fisheries are often family-based, use a small boat or no boat at all and use low technological/traditional methods for catching fish such as traps, small gill nets, throw nets, harpoons, diving, bow and arrows, hook and line, and beach seines (Uduji & Okolo-Obasi, 2020). A variety of fish species is caught and is either sold in markets or eaten by the families (Uduji & Okolo-Obasi, 2020). Because of women’s domestic duties and social norms, women rarely participate in commercial offshore or long distance fisheries (Uduji & Okolo-Obasi, 2020). Moreover, women often engage in subsistence fishing in small boats on coastal or inland water (Uduji & Okolo-Obasi, 2020).

In Mozambique, when the tide is low and the sea floor is visible, women from coastal villages harvest a variety of aquatic animals like clams, oysters, mussels and crabs (Wynter, 1990). For example, on Inhaca Island fishing households consume women’s catch while men’s catch is sold (Wynter, 1990). Women’s role in fisheries is hidden and neglected, but is crucial to increase income and to feed their families (Wynter, 1990). Furthermore, in Mozambique, women’s contribution to the fish trade is highly important in supplement household earnings, since many male laborers are increasingly traveling to work in South African mines (Harper et al., 2013).

Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities

Women in Mozambique are under-represented in local fisheries management committees and in credit and saving groups (Norad, 2014). As a result, they are unable to access certain equipment to distribute fish to more isolated areas (Norad, 2014). Low levels of education and income disadvantage women in engaging in economic activity, especially credit saving groups (PCR) (Norad, 2014). Poverty prohibits women from learning about the advantages of collective action, while illiteracy prevents women from holding managerial positions in aquaculture (Norad, 2014). Women continue to be socially and economically disadvantaged and are stuck in more dependent relationships with money lenders who charge higher interest rates (Norad, 2014). For women, who have less access to resources and education, who are young and either separated, divorced or widowed have less opportunities to access funds (Norad, 2014). As a result, they must rely on undesirable money lending relationships to survive (Norad, 2014).

In Gaza Province, rates of HIV/AIDS are some of the highest in the world and diminish women’s physical ability to participate in labour-intensive tasks, and thus reduces their independence in accessing credit and saving opportunities (Norad, 2014). Lighter and smaller tools and equipment, smaller sacks of feed and other accommodations can be made in equipment to reduce physical strain (Norad, 2014).

There are two central forms of collective action in support of aquaculture development in Gaza Province: producers’ associations and savings and credit groups (PCR). The members of producer’s associations are mobilized through local NGOs that open a demonstration pond, to be managed communally for training purposes (Norad, 2014). Once training is complete, the members will be encouraged to open their own pond to manage it independently (Norad, 2014). Members of producers’ associations are mainly women, however leadership and management is shared between the elected men and women of the association (Norad, 2014).

Credit and saving groups are necessary in order to support the production of fish, and credit can be accessed through the National Fund for Investigations (FNI) or the Fishery Development Fund (FFP) (Norad, 2014). PCR groups provide a forum for poorer people, and address a key socio-economic and cultural function, especially for women who do not have access to other opportunities of credit (Norad, 2014). These groups help women develop their financial literacy, financial management skills, and allows them to access funds for personal investments (Norad, 2014). The organization and methods of PCR groups varies by place and the different needs of members (Norad, 2014). In instances where PCR groups and producers’ associations are found in the same location, they are often inter-connected since both men and women are members of both groups. (Norad, 2014).

In Mecúfi district, Mozambique the population is mostly young and female however, they have little power to make decisions over the management of natural resources (Chauque, 2020). A funded project called Locally Empowered Area Protection (LEAP) is being implemented to build the capacity of artisanal fishers to improve their livelihoods and reduce the reliance on natural resources (Chauque, 2020). Six Community Fisheries Councils (CCP) have been recovered and directly involve 150 members, in which 35% are women (Chauque, 2020). The CCPs advocate for the needs and concerns of fisherfolk at the government level and teach fishers the proper skills in sustainably managing marine resources (Chauque, 2020).


The community has also implemented five Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA), with a total of 118 members, in which 76% are women (Chauque, 2020). The VSLAs save money together so they can use and lend it to one another (Chauque, 2020). Women in Mecúfi district are able to start small businesses such as selling food or trading fish to support themselves through these savings.

 Norway has supported small scale fisheries development in Mozambique through the Development Institute for Small Scale Fisheries (IDPPE) (Norad, 2009). The IDPPE program operates in three provinces across Mozambique, and in 290 coastal fishing communities (Norad, 2009). The program formulated the Sofala project, which has resulted in improved community literacy, health, and nutrition, training of water committees, and leadership training for members of associations (Norad, 2009). Additionally, the project has assisted poor fisher folk in increasing production and generating more income through education in diversifying their fishing techniques (Norad, 2009). Women in particular, have benefited from savings and credit groups, which was one of the main focuses of the project (Norad, 2009). Women along the Southern Mozambique coast were a target group of IDDPE, where they primarily work in fish trading (Norad, 2009). IDPPE operates with the help of extension workers, where only 10% of workers are women which the director attributes to issues in recruiting female workers (Norad, 2009).

Participant Recruitment and Selection

Methods and Tools Used

What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation

Influence, Outcomes, and Effects

Analysis and Lessons Learned

See Also


Amnesty International. (1997). In search of safety the forcibly displaced and human rights in africa. In Refworld.

Chauque, E. (2022, June 27). Helping mozambique fishing communities to help themselves. IUCN. Retrieved October 20, 2022, from

Elu, J., Price, G. N., & Williams, M. (2019). Gender and microcredit in Sub-Saharan Africa: The case of Mozambican smallholder households. Enterprise Development and Microfinance, 30(2), 117–128.

Norad. (2014). How to reduce gender discrimination in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors. In Norad.

Uduji, J. I., & Okolo-Obasi, E. N. (2020). Does corporate social responsibility (CSR) impact on development of women in small-scale fisheries of sub-Saharan Africa? Evidence from coastal communities of Niger Delta in Nigeria. Marine Policy, 118.

UN Women. (2020). Women’s economic empowerment in fisheries: In the blue economy of the indian ocean rim. In UN Women. The Economic Empowerment Section of UN Women.

External Links