Women and the management of household food security in Paternoster

Date: February 27, 2014
  • SHARE:

This study focuses on the gendered social relations that are attached to food, through an exploration of women’s management of food and food security in poor households in Paternoster, a small fishing community on the west coast of the Western Cape Province of South Africa. My study explores how women navigate the everyday provision, management and distribution of food within a context of limited resources, with food understood both in terms of sustenance and as implicated in processes whereby gender norms and larger concerns with ‘respectability’ (ordentlikheid) are established and maintained under difficult economic conditions. One of the important strategies employed to ensure food security within households in Paternoster is the establishment and maintenance by and among women of foodways in and between households. An exploration of foodways between households sheds light on the various social networks that exist in Paternoster and the important role of women within these networks. Paternoster is a space where the navigation of these issues is informed by the long history of subsistence fishing in the area and the symbolism attached to fish and fishing in the ways in which the local fishing community engages with the challenges of food security. Of particular interest is how women manage individual and/or household food security in Paternoster in the light of existing gender dynamics involved in the production, collection and consumption of food. The sharp division of labour historically has meant that women have traditionally been involved in the pre- and post-harvest sector, rather than in the actual catching of fish. This study is also driven by concerns around the impacts of the changing fishing environment on food security and social relations in this small village. One of the major consequences of these changes is the feeling of impending food insecurity experienced by many households. The increase in mechanization in marine resource use activities, drastic changes in fishing policies and the process of fisheries rights allocations as well as diminishing fish stocks are systematically impacting on the social systems and lived experiences of the people who were, and still are, heavily dependent on the fishing industry in Paternoster for their livelihoods.. Paternoster has seen the development of new sources of employment as a result of the growth of tourism, which has presented women in particular with new work opportunities, including working in guest houses and restaurants. However, this is on the low wage end. In this context the management of food security within the household and between households through maintaining foodways and established food networks is predominantly the responsibility of women.

Publisher: University of Stellenbosch
Year of Publication: 2013

Comment on Women and the management of household food security in Paternoster

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *