Photo story: Women in India fishing for a brighter future | ActionAid UK

In India a third of the population live below the poverty line. Early child marriage, violence, discrimination and lack of skills means many women have few choices, with 75% never having the opportunity to earn a living. By providing fishing equipment and training to local women’s groups, we’re helping women lift themselves out of poverty. Photographer Poulomi Basu has just returned from Andhra Pradesh, southeast India, to capture some of their stories.

Women buy fish on the beach in Vadamula, Andrha Pradesh, India.
Women buy fish on the beach in Vadamula, Andrha Pradesh, India.

Learning the tricks of the trade

Marigi Durgamma (Durga), 43, is a dry fish vendor. Durga struggled for years to raise her family. Her husband is an alcoholic who never gives her any support so she has to provide for her children and grandchildren alone.

Marigi Durgamma, 43, dry fish vendor, Kadapalem village, Andhra Pradesh, India.

When Durga received support from our local partner, she realised her strength. She says: “As a result of the project we have developed our knowledge and are now able to address any problems that come our way.”

Durga drying fish with her grandson, India

“We also understand the economy of the market”, Durga says. “For example, what is profit, what is loss, and how much we need to charge for each type of fish. Where we used to sell a fish for one rupee, we are now bargaining and sell for two.”

Thanks to her new knowledge, confidence and skills Durga is now able to support herself and her family.

Creating community leaders

Vadamula Rajeshwari (Raji), 38, was married at 12 to a much older man and had her first child at 15. Because her husband was elderly and ill, she had hardly any money and it was a huge struggle to care for her four children.

Raji buys fish from the beach, in Jalaripalam village, Andhra Pradesh, India.

One of our local partners saw Raji needed help. They offered her training in fish pickling and processing, and gave her essential equipment like ice boxes and knives. Now Raji is an established leader of the fishing community, encouraging other women like her to join training sessions.

Woman sells fish at the fish market in India

“Through this project collectiveness is really happening. We are now 40 women in the group, and have savings for the first time, enabling us to help whoever is vulnerable in the community through loans or insurance programmes.”

Raij now has enough money to send her children to school.

Empowering women is at the heart of ending poverty

Empowering women like Durga and Raji by giving them skills to support themselves is vital to ending poverty and hunger. With a stable income they can now feed their families and give their children opportunities they didn’t have themselves, like the chance to go to school.

An education means their children - especially the girls - will have more choices and the confidence to earn money, support themselves and break the cycle of poverty.

Fisherwomen on Kadapalem beach, Vishakapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, India.

But there are 1.2 billion around the world who still live below the poverty line and go hungry everyday. This April we challenge you to put yourself in these women’s shoes. Join us for Live Below the Line to support our work transforming the lives of women.




Photos by Poulomi Basu.