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Women and Livestock

Woman with leaves and goat

Livestock are important to small farmers all over the world, but they are particularly important to women from subsistence farming families in the poorest countries of the developing world.

Even though women do a lot of the farm work in Africa and Asia, they often have little control over what is produced, or the profits from that production. With livestock it is a different story. At least two thirds of the poor livestock keepers in the world are rural women. They often own small livestock – poultry, goats and pigs – and even if they don't own cows, as the people in charge of milking and processing, they often have control over the consumption of milk and the use of the profits from dairying.

For Veterinarians without Borders, these special circumstances mean that women are an important focus for livestock programming. By ensuring that women have access to livestock and training, VWB/ VSF can ensure better nutrition for the entire family as well as income that will be used for household needs such as clothing, health care, and school fees. As well, women have been engaged as group leaders and local educators and trained as Community Animal Health Workers (CAHW), providing a new source of family income, and a place of respect within the community.

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