International development programs and organizations are increasingly aware of gender disparities in food systems. Yet there is growing recognition that it is not enough for investments to treat the symptoms, such as the visible gender gaps, without looking at the underlying causes. For sustainable change to occur, the roots of gender-based inequalities must be addressed. 

Since 2012, WorldFish and our partners have spearheaded the conceptualization, testing, and scaling of gender-transformative approaches within aquatic food systems. This has included a focus on gender-equitable control over assets and resources including microcredit and processing technologies.

Where ‘business-as-usual', accommodative gender approaches try to work around barriers and are often women-focused, gender transformative approaches have broken new ground by engaging with and transforming structural barriers, in particular constraining gender norms. The approaches are operationalized through context-appropriate, locally-led and constructive strategies.  

Instead of burdening women with the responsibility for equality, gender transformative approaches engage men and women together as agents of change. As such, the aim is for women and men, from the household scale to the community and beyond, to shift constrictive gender norms and other structural barriers that underpin the persistence of inequalities in aquatic and land-based food systems. In this way, transformative approaches complement existing work, yet represent a significant transition forward. 

This is critical to enabling WorldFish and our partners within One CGIAR and beyond to tackle the root causes of gender inequalities, rather than address only the symptoms, and contribute to a transition toward more inclusive, equitable, sustainable, and resilient food systems.