Thesis proposal: who what why where

Gender considerations in participatory Coastal Resource Management
in the Philippines

PI: Barbara Clabots ( in collaboration with the staff of Coastal Conservation and Education Foundation, Cebu City, Philippines (


The Coral Triangle (CT) is the center of marine life abundance and biodiversity (CTI 2009). The six nations that make up the CT, Indonesia, Malaysia, Timor Leste, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and the Philippines, face substantial and increasing threats to their marine and coastal resources (CTI 2009). These threats include inappropriate coastal development, high population growth rates, and destructive fishing practices (CTI 2009). The “cornerstone” of marine conservation to abate these and other threats around the world is Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). The immense ecological benefits of well-designed MPAs are known, and this has caused an explosion in the number of established MPAs. This has occurred particularly in the Philippines, where over 1,000 MPAs have been established within the last few decades (CCE). However, several studies indicate that the social and economic impacts of Protected Areas on local peoples should be considered in management efforts (Deng 2010, Oraction et al. 2005, Weiant 2005).

Women are a particularly vulnerable population when it comes to coastal management. In the Philippines, the participatory or community-based management (CBM) of MPAs often includes fisherfolk organizations, also considered a People’s Organization (PO). As fisherfolk organizations are predominantly male-dominated, the women of coastal villages are not necessarily a part of the management decisions (personal communication with CCE 2012). The differentiation of gender roles in fisheries already exists, where men are usually the catchers and women are the sellers and processors (World Bank 2010). In fact, the role of gender in fisheries is complex and varies across cultures. In Nigeria, the women make up 73% of the total workforce in the sector, and in Mozambique they make up 4% (World Bank 2010). While these are the extremes, it is important to note the global variation. According to the World Bank, women account for 47% of the workforce in capture fisheries, and it is approximated that women hold 56 million jobs in the pre-and post-harvest sectors globally (World Bank 2010). It should not be stated that only women involved directly in fisheries sectors should be considered, as women who, for example, stay at home but depend on their husband’s income from fishing may also be indirectly affected by management decisions. The opportunities for meaningful inclusion of women in CRM decisions about fisheries will be addressed by this research.

Literature Review
A preliminary literature review indicates that prior research in this field appears to be limited. Less than 10 of 76 peer-reviewed published papers on participatory coastal resource management were found to directly address the incorporation of gender considerations into coastal resource management. Multiple current papers note the exclusion of women in NRM research (Walker 2009, Westermann et al. 2005, Mai et al. 2010)
A few publications emphasizing women’s unique knowledge of the intertidal zone in the Philippines and of inland fisheries throughout Southeast Asia indicate that gender considerations need to be taken into account to utilize the best information available for management decisions (Siar 2003, Suntornratana 2003). One long-term program that integrates reproductive health with coastal management in the Philippines has found that integration of both projects into development work increases the success of each project (D’Agnes 2003). Further, one study indicates that inclusion of women in natural resource management is specifically correlated with increased collaboration, solidarity, and conflict resolution, and this is consistent with a few other studies by Molinas (1998) and (Odame 2002) (Westermann 2005).

Research questions

General- specific to the Philippines
How are coastal women involved in and affected by coastal resource management?

Specific- all referring to municipal management
What are women’s perceptions of MPA management and impacts on the community?

How many women, as a percentage, are in leadership positions in coastal communities?

Does the inclusion of women correlate with long-term success of Marine Protected Areas management?

How are women’s livelihoods and well being affected by Marine Protected Areas?

What do women identify as local issues and solutions?

What is the gender breakdown and dynamics of MPA management groups?

What are implications of these findings to CCE and the Local Government Unit?

To better understand how women are currently involved in and affected by coastal resource management (CRM), and to assess opportunities for including gender considerations in CRM monitoring and management activities.

Create a visual concept map in order to understand the linkages between women, CRM decisions, and the coastal environment.
Identify women’s perceptions of CRM decisions.
Survey the number of women in leadership positions in participatory CRM.
Identify changes in livelihoods and job opportunities that are directly linked to CRM decisions (ex: establishment of a no-take area).
Develop Human Well Being indicators for women and the coastal environment.
Characterize women’s willingness to participate in CRM decision making processes and ecological monitoring.


Site description
I will collaborate with a recognized leading NGO in the Philippines; the Coastal Conservation and Education Foundation (CCE). As CCE’s main office is in Cebu, preparation for fieldwork will be done in the office. Fieldwork will be done in locations where CCE has established formal or informal connections with community and municipal leaders- limited to various coastal villages around the Central Visayas and Northern Luzon. Previous research and reports by CCE will be used to personalize the research approach for each site visited.
Through discussions with CCEF staff, three sites have been chosen on Siquijor as well as one in Moalboal that have a notable amount of women involved in their MPA management group. This includes Maite, Binoongan, and Luyang-Banban in Siquijor and Saavedra in Moalboal.

Data collection
Qualitative and quantitative data will be collected. Quantitative data will come from public records, including the number of women in formal leadership positions, and laws governing coastal resources (from BFAR- the Federal agency for Fisheries management). Qualitative data will take the form of semi-structured interviews. These interviews will be audio-recorded and analyzed using Atlas.ti. Ethnographic observations will also be done in the field in public areas such as beaches and docks.
Assisted by a CCEF staff, preferably female, we will hold focus group discussions with women who are part of the MPA management group. The focus group will range from 5-10 women. One or two women identified as leaders will be chosen from each focus group for follow-up interviews.
Observations will be made during focus groups as well as MPA management activities- including biological monitoring, meetings, and guarding of the sanctuaries.

Preliminary literature review will occur prior to July 2012. The in-field phase of data collection will be limited to eight weeks during July 1-August 30, 2012. Data analysis will occur August-December 2012, and the final write up will be complete by April 1, 2013.

Application of research results:
The collaborative agreement between CCEF and myself is to produce useful and relevant information in order to improve their current work in participatory coastal resource management. Two tangible outcomes of this research will be a report summarizing findings, and a presentation to CCEF and interested parties. Other interested parties may include the municipal government, People’s Organizations, and U. of Washington; who will be offered a copy of the report and for whom additional presentations may be held.

Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries, and Food Security (CTI-CFF). (2009). Regional Plan of Action. Jakarta, Indonesia, 88 p.

D’Agnes, H., Castro, J., D’Agnes, L., and Montebon, R. (2005) Gender Issues within the Population-Environment Nexus in the Philippines Coastal Areas. Coastal Management 33:447-458.

Deng, X., Wang, Y., and An, T. (2010) Poverty issues in a national wildlife reserve in China. International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology Vol. 17, No. 6: 529-541.

Mai, Y., Mwangi, E., and Wan, M. (2011) Gender Analysis in Forestry Research: Looking Back and Thinking Ahead. International Forestry Review Vol. 13(2).

Oracion, E., Miller, M., and Christie, P. (2005) Marine Protected Areas for whom? Fisheries, tourism, and solidarity in a Philippine community. Ocean & Coastal Management 48: 393-410.

Siar, S. (2003) Knowledge, Gender, and Resources in Small-Scale Fishing: The case of Honda Bay, Palawan, Philippines. Environmental Management Vol. 31, No. 5, pp. 569-580.

Suntornratana, U. (2003) Women as a Source of Information on Inland Fisheries. Food and Agriculture Organization. Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.

The World Bank, Food and Agriculture Organization, and the WorldFish Center. (2010) The Hidden Harvest: the global contribution of capture fisheries. Washington, D.C.

Walker, B. and Robinson, M. (2009) Economic development, marine protected areas, and gendered access to fishing resources in a Polynesian lagoon. Gender, Place & Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography, 16:4, 467-484.

Weiant, P. (2005) A Political Ecology of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs): Case of Cabo Pulmo National Park, Sea of Cortez, Mexico. University of California, Santa Barbara. Thesis.

Westermann, O., Ashby, J., and Pretty, J. (2005) Gender and Social Capital: The Importance of Gender Differences for the Maturity and Effectiveness of Resource Management Groups. World Development Vol. 33, No.11, pp.1783-1799.