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6. Livestock sub-sector - a privileged entry point
for promoting gender issues?

Good entry points for projects are found when concerns and problems of the target population or a specific sector of a society are well identified, understood and taken seriously. Economic problems are often the result of poor gender relations. In all livestock keeping communities, women are the most important labour force, engaged in multiple ways in animal, crop and family related work. Because livestock production and management are joint activities in rural households, this sector offers an excellent entry point.

In relation to the promotion of gender aspects in rural areas of developing countries, the livestock sector offers advantages over other agriculture sectors because of the fact that in most societies all household members have access to livestock, whereas access to land is often biased towards men.

In contrast to crops, livestock activities are a daily occupation and animal products such as eggs and milk are produced, processed and marketed during the whole year. As livestock production is not subjected to seasonal restrictions, it is an interesting sector for promoting gender aspects in an ongoing process.

In most societies all household members are involved in livestock production, but decision making processes within the family and the division of labour for activities such as feeding, milking, health care, processing and marketing differ between regions, societies and households. Livestock production systems offer the potential for introducing a wide range of project activities relating to gender promotion, including improved production methods, redistribution of intra-household tasks and responsibilities, family nutrition, processing of products, marketing, increasing household economy, sustainable environmental practices, etc. (3).

In livestock systems, it is easy to show how gender imbalances affect productivity and the possibilities of change are often more evident than in other sectors. For example, if the men realise how their wives' commitment to livestock management changes and leads to better animal health and higher milk output when women have access to the proceeds from milk sales, the men's willingness to change increases (1).

All those who participated in this survey are in agreement that the livestock sector is a privileged entry point to promote gender related issues. However, to do this and achieve sustainable results will require an adaptive approach and proper training. Some of the main reasons reported by the respondents as why the livestock sector is a privileged entry point are:

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