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Capitalisation of Experiences on the
Contribution of Livestock Projects
to Gender Issues

Heidi Bravo-Baumann

Working Document
Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation
Bern, September 2000


Women play an important role in activities dealing with livestock such as care and management or transformation and marketing of certain livestock products. Furthermore, livestock ownership patterns (especially for small stock and poultry) appear more equitable than that of other assets (land, capital, knowledge). These reasons have possibly contributed to an increasing inclusion -in one way or another- of gender aspects in livestock development projects. Gender aspects are to be understood as "practical needs" on the one hand (access to technologies, more access to better welfare) and as "strategic needs" on the other hand (revised rules and regulations, long term improvement of women's position).

On the basis of interest shown by various partners for the topic and the positive feedback to the proposal by SDC Agriculture Division, the Division decided to review experiences and examine the following hypothesis: "livestock sub-sector is a privileged entry point to promote gender balanced development in rural areas". We expected the work to provide a more differentiated picture to complement a review mandated in 1996 on gender and agriculture and which concluded that a project aiming at gender balanced development depends more on participation than on project contents or the domain of intervention. If the hypothesis examined here holds true, it would imply scope for interventions in the livestock sub-sector thus indicating a specific possibility to work on gender issues in a production domain (gender enhancing interventions usually appear more evident in social domains such as education or health).

In addition to and independently of the answer to the hypothesis, we also wanted to identify best practices and pitfalls as there are a wide variety of approaches to address gender and women issues in livestock projects (women dairy cooperatives, training of pastoralist women, women focused livestock extension services).

For the reasons given above, SDC Agriculture Division mandated Heidi Bravo to capitalise on the experiences made by SDC and other organisations. During the course of the work there was a close dialogue between the consultant and SDC Agriculture Division and SDC Gender Unit to arrive to the final product. The work consisted in a fairly rapid review of experiences reported by resource people or found in the literature. It is an aid to better understand what can be done and what should be kept in mind for implementing gender approach in livestock projects. This working document does not pretend to cover all the key experiences nor provide the ultimate wisdom on the matter but hopes to stimulate interest and discussions on the subject. For this reason, we invite readers to share their reactions and experiences with SDC and contribute to better know how and further developments of this paper. We would like to thank all the resource people and organisations who responded to the questionnaire and whose names a pear in the document.

Pradeep Itty
SDC Agriculture Division

Chrystel Ferret
SDC Gender Unit

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