Qualitative life history data were used to explore the experiences of women who live at five fish-landing sites on Lake Victoria, Uganda. We explored what economic and social opportunities women have in order to try to understand why some women are more vulnerable to violence and other risks than others and why some women are able to create successful enterprises while others struggle to make a living.
The ability of women to create a viable livelihood at the landing sites was influenced by a wide variety of factors. Women who had or were able to access capital when they arrived at the landing site to set up their own enterprise had a significant advantage over those who did not, particularly in avoiding establishing sexual relationships in order to get support. Being able to establish their own business enabled women to avoid lower paid and more risky work such as fish processing and selling or working in bars.
The development of landing sites and the leisure industry may be having an impact on how women earn money at the landing sites, with the most desirable economic opportunities not necessarily being connected directly to fishing.