Progressive challenging of gender norms

Published: 03 May 2021
Last edited: 03 May 2021

Activities led by SeaPoWer were carefully designed to gradually build capacity, progressively raise awareness and challenge perceived boundaries. They aimed to challenge taboos, fears and restrictions related to women going out to sea with the introduction of basic seafaring and safety skills, and working in equal capacity alongside selected male boat skippers, who needed to become accustomed and also change their attitudes to women's presence on board boats.

This is part of the transformative approach of innovation for women's empowerment promoted by Sea PoWer.


Communication, outreach and awareness building
Scale of implementation
Phase of solution

Enabling factors

Deeply engrained cultural practices and ways of thinking, held by both men and women, require repeated action, support and perseverance over extensive periods of time to evolve.

Engaging with some male members of the community from the outset enabled to bring them onboard the initiative in a supporting and understanding role, rather than a directing and overpowering one (as boat handlers and snorklers).

Lessons learned

Women now want to learn to swim and drive the boat to reduce their dependency on men, highlighting a shift in traditional attitudes. Deepwater farming represents a shift in gender attitudes because it challenges the traditional belief that the deepwater is an area accessed by men due to women's limited mobility and role in society.

One needs to be very sensitive to the dynamics of the power and control relationships between men and women in more conservative societies. It is important that men are women's allies, but they should not be allowed to take over.