This talk by Andrea M. Collins of the University of Waterloo in Canada provided a high-level overview of the various tools and perspectives for undertaking gender-focused analysis in resource sectors such as small-scale fisheries. Drawing from gender studies, feminist political ecology, feminist political economy, and political science, this talk dispelled the idea that gender analysis means only focusing on women. It showed how understanding the many dimensions of gender roles and relations can improve the analysis of resource management and economic activity, expand our understanding of vulnerability and empowerment, and advance policy-relevant outcomes.

Andrea was careful to make it clear to the audience that gender is best understood as a relationship of a person to one or more others. Gender should be understood as a social structure that shapes for example economic spaces and activity, political spaces and activity and familial and community spaces and the relations between people in these spaces. In other words, gender represents a person's identity, but it also refers to the social role of a person and goes beyond sex. Other conditions that affect what behaviour or roles people are expected to play in their society may be marked by religion, caste, refugee status, wealth or other dimensions. In other words,  context matters a lot as to how gender molds a person's vulnerability or power.

The gender role of women does not automatically mean that they are always vulnerable and weak. Rather, asking questions beyond the widespread stereotypes will help getting a more realistic impression and understanding of gender relations in family, community and wider society: who has access to economic and other resources and can, for example, effectively take part in social, economic and legal decision making. Such improved understanding has great potential in better decision making and more adequate policies to frame conditions within which people operate. Click here for the full webinar presentation and Q&A session.