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When Women Raise Livestock

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The tripling of per capital meat consumption in developing countries between the 1970s and 1990s has resulted in an increase in the demand for livestock markets. The participation of women in livestock markets is crucial in the improvement of the welfare of women and their families. However, women should also have a part in making decisions regarding which animals and products are to be sold and what is done with the income. If this will not occur, women will not benefit from this endeavor.

Livestock Marketing and Women

Women’s capability of competing with men or obtaining the same benefits as men decrease due to the commercialization of livestock production. An example involves men in Fulani (Nigeria) and the Omdurman (Sudan) who are attracted with the profits obtained from milk and hides. These are just two of the products that are conventionally controlled by women. Due to this monetization, women’s roles are reduced to mere laborers. Women are underprivileged as they do not have the right to secure rights to real property, labor, and capital. They also cannot apply in formal lending institutions like men do.

A number of factors affect the participation of women at each stage of the value chain. These include skills, capital, ability to lead, and hindrances to mobility. Research shows that the number of men is more compared women when it comes to control and representation in the value of milk and household wealth.

Women are less active in the marketing of live animals (goats, sheep, and cattle) compared with their involvement in the milk market. Women have more control over livestock products (butter, hides and skins, ghee, cheese, milk) compared with the live animals themselves. There are countries where women are active in marketing small livestock compared to large livestock. Women in Ethiopia, for instance, have crucial roles in purchasing and selling of goats and sheep, but not camels and cattle. Moreover, women have access to livestock due to their relationships with men – husbands, fathers, and sons.

Ownership of Land

Women’s productivity decreases due to the insecurity of land tenure. Land tenure is a set of rights which a group of people holds in order to own, gain access to or use the land. Women, in most cultures, gain access to land, but not ownership. Women often are on the losing side as they are not included when common land is converted into state ownership and to private land. Women are generally unaware of their rights. However, there are some countries that do otherwise. Women in Eritrea have strong gender equality concerns in land tenure legislation. Both women and men in Eritrea are qualified to the use of land as long as their main source of livelihood comes from the derived use of the land where they reside.


Women are involved in livestock production. Households often have men and women do their share in increasing the production of their livestock. The issue lies on the equality provided by their culture and the government where they are citizens. Women can do more in livestock production if they are given an equal part in decision-making processes and not just mere providers of labor.

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