Cuddalore Old Town harbour is usually bustling with sound. It is the centre for fisheries activities in the district, with over 250 mechanized and 3000 motorised boats, and women engaged with a range of tasks, linked directly to fish marketing and processing, and indirectly to a range of support functions such as selling ice, tea and cooked food to the women fish-workers.
If all these tasks are counted, fisheries could well be seen as a female sector. While fisher women are usually characterised as fish vendors, there are a number of women, often those lacking in capital, or suffering from a physical ailment, who take on supportive tasks such as gleaning and removal of waste, or cutting fish – working in close coordination with each other.
Yet, coastal transformations, including a policy push towards the capitalisation of fisheries and export promotion, rather than utilising the fish for local trade and consumption, have increasingly marginalised these women, giving little recognition to their contributions to the fisheries sector.
This short film, prepared as part of the fishercoast project, presents the stories of five women, working in Cuddalore Old Town harbour, performing a range of tasks both directly and indirectly linked to the fishing enterprise. These women generate value, yet get no policy support in terms of capital or space, and struggle to make ends meet.
The film was made in collaboration between the University of East Anglia and Institut Francais de Pondichery (IFP).