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5. Gender aspects in livestock production

5.1 Production systems and function of livestock

5.1.1 Experiences

Throughout much of the developing world livestock are raised in mixed farming systems, where animals very often have different functions. Livestock activities are normally integrated into the existing farming systems: animals graze on fallow land and browse on hedges, utilise crop residues as feedstuffs and produce milk and meat, manure for biogas and power for traction.

A special category of smallholders are landless labourers, who own one or two dairy cows. This is a category that is dominant in Asia. These labourers and their families must also be considered and included in dairy development programmes. Experience in India shows, that through milk cooperatives (Operation Flood) a large number of marginal farmers, women and even the landless could be attracted to dairy production (Ramaswamy, 1996).

Sheep and goats can be kept on small farms without large fodder resources. They are a fundamental component in many farming systems, but they rarely dominate. In Niger most women own some sheep, which during the day are sent to pasture. Several studies show that this activity, when all costs for medicine, salt and straw are counted, provides little profit. Nevertheless, keeping sheep allows to women to realise some income, form part of their savings and is a source of prestige (SDC, 1999).

Poultry are probably the most important livestock species for many poor, rural families world-wide. Poultry keeping is largely the responsibility of women, but despite this, research into rural poultry development is usually narrowly focused on technical aspects with very little attention being paid to the wider socio-economic issues. Interventions to improve poultry production are often seen as a way to reach poor rural women to improve their livelihood (Rushton, 1998). Project proposals that intend women to be the main beneficiaries should examine how changes will affect them and how much control they can exert.

Often it is assumed that a household is a unit of production where all members have the same objectives and interests. Experiences in Tanzania show that the husband and wife may have both shared and separate objectives or interests in dairy production, and each one tries to work toward achieving them. This situation has a great influence of the overall livestock management (1).

Even if income is not the only factor that determines the socio-economic position of women, it greatly influences their status and well-being. Increasing women's income through improved livestock production would, therefore, also increase their status.

Men may feel threatened by this process and it is doubtful whether women would continue to maintain the traditional control they seem to have over the system. In fact, it has been reported when such changes take place, men will often take control (Rushton, 1998). To avoid such a backlash, experience shows that projects must include men and women throughout all negotiations to bring about equitable and sustainable changes. However, at the same time efforts must be made to increase the capacity of women so that they are able to confidently negotiate and meet their strategic needs.

5.1.2 Risks and best practises for livestock projects

5.1.3 Required information and indicators

For each specific situation, available information and relevant indicators will need to be considered together in the overall context of gender awareness. Some possible examples are given below.

Agricultural production systems

Livestock production systems and types of animals; crop/livestock linkages; feeding; availability and quality of natural resources, ecological conditions and availability of land and pastures; soil quality; natural water sources; other common property resources; availability and cost of inputs; use of manure and crop residues; technology used.

Households and their livelihoods

Role of livestock according to the men and women within the households; proportion of households with livestock and their social structure; ethnic, cultural and social relations; household activities and intrahousehold organisation; seasonal migration; relation between livestock and other activities; gender disaggregated seasonal occupation and sources of income .

5.2 Ownership of land

5.2.1 Experiences

Insecurity of women's land tenure is one of the most serious obstacles to increase productivity of agriculture and livestock and the income of rural women . Land tenure refers to a set of rights which a person or organisation holds in order to own, have access to or use land. Security of land tenure is not limited to private ownership, but can exist in a variety of forms such as leases of public land or user rights to communal property. Tenure enables the holder to make management decisions on how land-based resources will be used for immediate needs and long-term sustainable investment (FAO, 1998).

Historically, in most cultures, women's access to land involved right of use, but not ownership. When common land is converted into state ownership and then to private land, women often lose their traditional rights and are often not considered when new laws are introduced. In addition, women are rarely aware of their rights. Generally, the importance of this overall scheme is neglected by policy makers, ministries and project designers. But there are also other examples. In Eritrea there is a strong gender equality concern in the land tenure legislation . Since 1994 the right of ownership of all land is the exclusive right of the government. Every citizen, whose main source of income is derived from the use of land, has a lifetime right of usufruct over the land with the provision that such a right is neither divisible nor inheritable. Eritreans qualify automatically for land upon attainment of age 18 regardless of sex, religion or marital status. Individual holdings are registered and lifetime usufruc uary title deeds issued.

Due to their status within the family, in most societies men are the main owners of land. Private land is mainly transmitted from the father to the sons, and often daughters are only taken into consideration if no male successor is available. There are some exemptions, mainly in Latin America, where the land is divided between all children. A brief examination of the succession law provides an appreciation of possible future land distribution and subsequent farm size. If agriculture and pasture land is divided between all children (or all sons), land availability per family tends to diminish rapidly. With an increase of family members, in many cases, survival relying only on farming cannot be longer assured. In cases where there are no jobs available in other rural sectors to contribute to meeting family income needs, the family tends to increase productivity on the available land with mostly negative consequences on sustainability. Less fertile and exposed land is cultivated, crop rotation is no longer easible and the consequences are depleted soils, erosion and poor yields. If pressure on the land increases and no other income resources are created, migration is the last resort. In the first step men migrate seasonally, while the burden of the women and children who continue to cultivate the land increases. Abandoning the village and the migration of the whole family is often only carried out as an extreme second step, when there are no other options.

Security of land tenure is the key to having control over major decisions in agriculture and livestock production: what techniques to use, which products to sell and which to consume are examples thereof. The law of succession influences the distribution of land, the security of tenure and it is often a precondition for access to credit and a key link in the chain from household food production to national food security (World Bank, 2000).

Some development projects have attempted to give women access to land. A World Bank project in India made it possible for women in Jammu and Kashmir to obtain joint title to mulberry gardens, if they have a letter of no objection from their husband or landowner. In Andhra Pradesh, state land grant schemes promoted women's access to land. In a smallholder farmer project in Chile, obtaining land titles for female heads of households was a priority. This latter experience demonstrates that a government can successfully target the most needy farmers who lack secure land tenure and that rural women can be explicitly recognised as beneficiaries (FAO, 1998). Farmers with land tenure security are more readily to accept new technologies or interventions.

5.2.2 Risks and best practises for livestock projects

5.2.3 Required information and indicators

Information and indicators on land ownership or tenure is often difficult to obtain. Some possible examples of indicators which can be used to assess the initial situation and develop changes are given below.

Gender and land tenure

Extent of landlessness; legal set ups as tenure legislation; land title and succession law; relation between credit systems and land tenure; access to and control over land by gender in quantity and quality and intra-household decision making.

5.3 Ownership of different livestock species

5.3.1 Experiences

Generally, men and women tend to own different animal species. In many societies, cattle and larger animals are usually owned by men, while smaller animals, such as goats and backyard poultry which are kept near the house, are more women's domain. However, ownership patterns of livestock are more complex and are strongly related to the livestock production system and to social and cultural factors.

Ownership of larger animals is often related to ownership of the land. How can a women own a cow while the land she uses belong to her husband? This question raised by projects in Africa illustrates the strong influence of cultural and traditional aspects. In the southern highlands of Tanzania, even if a married woman signs the ownership contract or pays for a cow, the animal still belongs to the husband, and even in case of divorce, the wife cannot take the animal with her (1). Similar experiences are related from pastoral societies in Niger, where livestock is often a part of the dowry, but the control over the animals after marriage belongs to the man (3). The perception of these cultures imply that with marriage all the belongings of the women, including herself, reverts to the ownership of men. The Nuer society in Sudan do not permit women to own cattle and goats, but they are often charged with the responsibility for grazing these animals (8). However, in extensive animal husbandry systems in Pakis an, women continue to own the animals they brought as a part of their dowry. They can decide by themselves what to do with them, but if they want to sell livestock, then they need the men's agreement (Dohmen, 1992). Thus, even if women are the rightful and legal owners of livestock, they still depend largely on decisions and agreements made by men (12). In Burkina Faso, the handling of large animals is controlled by men, even if the women is the owner. In this society as in many others, for example Latin America, large livestock are held as an investment for savings and, therefore, are an important source of prestige (4, 9).

The distribution of ownership of animal species between men and women depends not only on the society considered, but also on the type of animals raised. For example, in transhumant Peul society, each woman owns a cow to cover the family needs of milk and milk products. The more settled a family is, the more the division of ownership or control over different animal species becomes important. Men tend to own mainly cows and camels, and women goats, sheep and poultry. But there are also exceptions to this rule (3). When the rearing of small animals such as pigs or poultry becomes a more important source of family income, then ownership, management and control of the animals is often turned over to the man (4,5).

Another way to look at ownership patterns is in terms of management of income generated from livestock. The general trend seems to be that men are the ones who control the income generated. But there are also exceptions to this. Examples from India show that women have learned to keep their own personal accounts and the pattern of income management in women-managed households is quite different from men (2). Generally, women's control over livestock resources tends to occur with widowhood and to increase with age (7).

5.3.2 Risks and best practices for livestock projects

5.3.3 Required information and indicators

Some indicators of ownership to be considered in the context of gender awareness are given below.

Number, ownership and control of livestock species by household types and gender:

Social and cultural constraint to ownership of livestock; role of livestock production (home consumption, commercial production, for savings, for ceremonies, for manure etc.); types of ownership and control of livestock products as meat, eggs, wool, dairy products etc.

5.4 Access to capital and knowledge

5.4.1 Experiences

In a general rule, men have easier access to government provided credit than women. Women are rarely considered creditworthy because they have no collateral. In addition, they often cannot read and write, and are not used to frequent governmental or official institutions without their husbands consent and being accompanied.

In many countries, however, women have developed their small credit/loan systems. Credit funds and revolving savings of women's groups are common in West Africa. The members of the group save a certain amount of money which is then granted to one of the women as a loan. Normally no interest is paid, and the social control guarantees that loans are repaid. Other credit systems consist of loans of animals or even milk for processing. Generally, these systems only function at the village level, often between neighbours, where social control can be assured.

Project experiences show that special credit lines for women are successful if they are transparent and cultural and social reality of the concerned families are considered. However, the local situation has to be well analysed. For example, if the loan agreement or contract is only signed by the woman, but the loan is actually used by the man, or if jealousy or distrust develops between the two, then problems can arise and repayment of the loan will not be guaranteed.

In the most countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, animal husbandry services are mainly oriented towards men. Veterinary services and extension programmes and advisory services have been mainly designed by men for men. Extension personnel are often not trained to teach technical subjects to women or to react their specific questions. Due to limited resources in time and material, attention is first given primarily to men's animals. Extension work with women often requires special didactic knowledge and communication skills because women often speak only the local language or dialect and illiteracy is high.

5.4.2 Risks and best practises for livestock projects

5.4.3 Required information and indicators

Some indicators to evaluate household and gender specific access to capital and knowledge are given below.

Credit systems and required collateral; intra-household decision making and control over loans; proportion of total income saved on annual bases and use by household type and gender; preference concerning investment of liquidity (bank, purchase of livestock, jewellery, saving groups etc.), informal borrowing sources (purpose, interest, repayment conditions) etc.

Official livestock and extension services; gender disaggregated information on following items: participation in decision making structure; type of services and training offered and attended; other sources of information and training (rural radio, TV); literacy level; participation in formal and informal groups.

5.5 Responsibilities and division of labour

5.5.1 Experiences

Patterns of gender division of labour are location-specific and change over time. Although the most typical pattern of gender division of labour is that women are responsible for animals kept at the homestead, there are many variations to this pattern from non-involvement in livestock to the management and herding of large stock (6).

If new livestock activities are introduced, it is mainly males who decide on whether or not to participate. The intra-household division of labour then depends on household labour availability, the number and type of livestock, economic development of the household and estimated income out of the new activity. But in fact, many decisions in a family are joint decisions, although they may not be formally recognised as such (not admitted by households and communities for socio-cultural reasons).

In Mali for example, handling of large livestock is traditionally controlled by men while women are responsible for smaller animals. This traditional division of labour is changing as the monetary value of livestock and their products increases (9). Experiences in Tanzania show that men primarily perform those jobs related to income generation and control most financial decisions (1).

From the Orissa region in India it is reported that women perform all the day to day activities related to caring, feeding, cleaning, health and production of livestock. Theses activities performed by women may appear to involve low skill levels, they are, however, most critical to the survival, health and production of the livestock. Activities performed by men are occasional in nature, involve less time, energy and labour and largely occur in the public domain, outside the confines of the household. These are activities such as vaccinations, deworming, grazing, purchase of fodder and medicines, and taking animals to the dispensary. Clearly these activities involve greater mobility, access to new technology and information, greater interaction with the market and the outside world (10). Despite this division of work, livestock production and management continues in India to be a household activity with flexible arrangements of work between women and men. Women's access to information and training in mod rn livestock management and dairying continues to be limited and even indirect, lowering their involvement and efficiency (2).

In Latin America, administration and control of cattle, including the milking, are done traditionally by men while the women participate in grazing activities and feeding (5).

Animal traction might reduce the work load for women, especially in Africa, where much of the hoe cultivation is done by women. On the other hand, the increased stall feeding and in general intensification of production might increase work load, as it involves transport of fodder or water over larger distances (6).

With increasing migration and off-farm work by men, the workload of women subsequently becomes greater as they become involved in activities once considered as being exclusively handled by men. Also in situations of war, women often take over the work traditionally carried out by men (8). It is, however, common for women to perform men' s tasks, whereas, the opposite rarely occurs (11). It seems that a change of traditional division of labour occurs only by need, in cases where external factors influence a society, for example, the introduction of new technology, new agriculture or livestock activities, pressure for migration, war etc. Bringing shifts in division of labour by projects implylong term interventions (1).

With respect to children, gender-roles in most societies become internalised at a very young age - girls are socialised into performing roles traditionally performed by women and boys take on the roles considered appropriate for men. These internalised set of roles also influences attitudes and thinking and are carried later into life, which is why it is so difficult to change gender related issues (IFAD, 2000).

5.5.2 Risks and best practises for livestock projects

5.5.3 Required information and indicators

Some indicators related to gender division of labour are given below.

Different types of livestock; important crops and other activities; cultural restrictions to livestock related activities for men and women; seasonal variation in labour intensity; hired labour; daily time use by gender for productive activities and domestic tasks; intra-household organisation and distribution of work (taking also children into consideration).

5.6 Role of livestock in the household nutrition

5.6.1 Experiences

Generally, household nutrition level through livestock keeping can be influenced in three ways:

Monetarisation of milk economy leads resource-poor families to sell more milk (1,2). But if the money is invested in nonfood items or used to drink beer, household nutrition level will not improve. The assumption that a cow will always lead to increased household nutrition does automatically not hold (1).

Nutrition levels of families have improved wherever projects have given focus on nutrition education or have brought multiple packages of intervention to improve the livelihood systems of the household (2). In transhumance societies in Niger, milk and milk products are mainly controlled by women. As women are traditionally more aware of nutrition aspects, they tend to assure family needs first of all, through direct consumption of livestock products or through selling and acquiring complementary products (3).

Contrary to crops, animal products, such as eggs and milk, are produced throughout most of the year. Selling them provides a small but continuous income, which is more likely to be reinvested in nutrition than the income of selling a cow or a cash-crop. Project experiences in Bangladesh show that through poultry production women's income could be raised. Expenditure increased in portion to the increase in income. Most significant increase was expenditure on food, followed by clothes, savings, animals and schooling. It is interesting to note that as women's savings became more important, there is greater female influence on decision making, with the result that more girls are sent to school (Nielsen 1998).

Generally, increased livestock production can have a positive influence on the nutritional level and the well-being of household members. Increased income from livestock production may change the intra-household distribution and control over products and earnings. When higher production and marketing activities become more important, women often lose their control over products and income. The level of nutrition within the family may decrease if the animals from which the products are derived are sold and the earnings spent on personal necessities, without taking into consideration the household well-being.

5.6.2 Risks and best practises for livestock projects

5.6.3 Required information and indicators

Information and indicators on household nutrition can be difficult to obtain. Some possible examples of indicators are given below.

Eating habits by households and gender; seasonal variation in food combinations; food quantity and quality; proportion of animal products in nutrition and meal frequency by gender; religious and traditional constraints in nutrition of specific groups (children, pregnant women etc.); sources of different foods (home production, purchase, food aid); part of income spent on nutrition; systems of storage, processing and losses; intra-household distribution and control over products and earnings; main diseases; access to potable water.

5.7 Influence of processing and marketing of livestock products in the household economy

5.7.1 Experiences

If livestock keeping is the major source of income, men become more responsible and in-charge of the finance. Often men control the income and use it as they wish. However, experience has shown that money from live animals sales, mainly cattle, is often used to pay school fees or make major house repairs etc., whereas money from milk sales is used for minor expenditures like buying soap, kerosene etc. (1).

In many areas, sour milk, ghee and fresh cheese are the most common milk products processed at household level. Usually these products are for consumption and if marketed women control the income received. In cases where there is no market for fresh milk, processed milk products are sold in small quantities. When marketing of milk and milk products becomes a more important income source, commercialisation is often realised by men. In Peul, Touareg and Roumboukawa societies, selling of milk is exclusively a women domain, independent of the quantity sold (3). In Burkina Faso, the selling of milk products is realised by men when there are long distances between the village and market place. Money earned through milk sales is used to purchase necessary products for daily life that are not available in the villages (4). Experience from India shows that women tend to have greater control on the income from sale of poultry, eggs, milk and small ruminants (10).

The introduction of Operation Flood in India, the organisation of milk collection programmes and the establishment of milk cooperatives illustrates how market organisation influences marketing possibilities and income generation. Therefore, intervention in livestock production should always be accompanied by a prospective evaluation of the existing or potential markets (milk, beef, wool, etc). Future market possibilities, involvement of women and income from livestock activities depend largely on the focus and support given by the project to market issues (marketing, infrastructure, capacity building, etc).

In general, women tend to spend the money they earn from livestock activities on the welfare of their families. Income from livestock activities is also invested into diversification of agriculture, to buy animals and even to buy land. In many societies, the little income derived from daily milk sales is sometimes used by men for drinking. This continues to be an intractable issue in many societies (IFAD, 1999).

5.7.2 Risks and best practises for livestock projects

5.7.3 Required information and indicators

Some indicators relating to processing and marketing of livestock products are given below.

Sources of income, especially from livestock activities; intra-household decision making and control over income and expenditure; structure of expenditure by type of household and gender; organisation and control over processing at household and industrial level; system of commercialisation of different livestock products; policy, prices and services; infrastructure; livestock products and quantities sold by household members through different marketing channels and system of payment; seasonal variation on prices for fresh and processed livestock products; processing and marketing possibilities for increasing livestock production; restriction to mobility of women.

5.8 Training in livestock activities

5.8.1 Experiences

In many parts of the world, women and men are involved in livestock production, but, compared to women, men have easier access to technology and training, mainly due to their strong position as head of the household and greater access to off-farm mobility. In most countries, research and planning activities in the livestock sector, such as breeding, handling, feeding and health care, are largely dominated by men. Official livestock services are often controlled by men and extension personal are primarily men who are not accustomed or trained to teach technical subjects to women. Extension programmes and educational materials are mainly designed by and oriented towards men. Although in most societies all household members are involved in some way or another in livestock production, the decision making processes within the family and the division of labour for activities such as feeding, milking, health care, processing and marketing differs between regions, societies and households.

At present, in many societies, women's access to information and training in modern livestock management and dairying continues to be limited and even indirect. Successful training should be oriented towards those household members which execute these tasks. For example, in societies where sick animals are mainly treated by women, they have a knowledge of the symptoms and cures for animal diseases. But if they have no access to training, progress in best practices and appropriate herding to reduce diseases is difficult. Therefore, where extension services are dominated by men and where women have little access to training due to socio-culturally-defined gender roles, men need to be persuaded to see the relevance and the benefit of training women. Only through a carefully planned gender approach can livestock production goals and successful training of women and men be achieved.

Projects should identify and consider specific socio-cultural conditions of women, their needs and time constraints. Mobility of women is often limited and illiteracy high. Successful training can only be reached if these restrictions are considered and activities, approaches, methods and materials adapted accordingly to meet the specific conditions. Quality gender training should be practical and situational (1). Resource persons should represent both males and females, and should have an affiliation with agriculture and livestock production. It is also important to consider the age of the resource person. Very young facilitators and presenters may not be taken seriously by the group.(11)

5.8.2 Risks and best practises for livestock projects

5.8.3 Required information and indicators

Some possible indicators for developing activities in gender awareness training in livestock production are given below.

Differentiation of activities in livestock husbandry mainly executed by women and by men and possibilities to increase productivity through training; cultural and social constraints to participation of women in public life and extension; existence and structure of other production support services including other projects; constraints to mixed training groups; gender disaggregated adult literacy level; time and mobility constraints of women.

5.9 Role of farmers' organisations

5.9.1 Experiences

There is little information on experiences of farmers' organisations, their impact at the local and regional level, and how they influence and impact on gender related issues.

Farmers' organisations can play a vital role in the livestock development process. Input-supply organisations may grow and become centres for services such as artificial insemination, bulls, veterinary assistance, milk collection and processing, and marketing of animals and products.

The experiences in Andhra Pradesh in India show, that the membership of dairy cooperatives is largely dominated by men. Dairy cooperatives offered opportunities to men from backward communities to have access to benefits, emerge as leaders and gain visibility. Women only achieved symbolic representation and their are none or little opportunities for them to assume positions such as a manager, planner or director (Ramaswamy, 1996). In Orissa state in India, it seems that participation in the cooperatives benefits both men and women in terms of marketing. But there is clearly no significant impact on increasing women's decision making power or on enhancing their leadership qualities (Ramdas, 1999).

In some societies where the participation in cooperatives due to cultural and traditional reasons is difficult or impossible, women create their own cooperatives. By doing so, capacity building and decision making power, as well as self-confidence of women increase. Nevertheless, in these societies women cooperatives can only be successful if the husband first agrees to his wife's participation.

5.9.2 Risks and best practises for livestock projects

5.9.3 Required information and indicators

Some indicators relating to farmers' organisations are given below.

Existence of farmers' groups, associations, cooperatives; their goals, orientation, structure, membership, activities, influence; level of participation of women and their influence in the decision making process; existence of women's groups; relations between different groups; main constraints.

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