Veterinary skills help empower women in rural Pakistan

 Women in punjab watch their teacher perform a demonstration during a class on veterinary skills.
Women in Punjab attend a class on veterinary skills. (Photo: UNDP)

Muhammad Bibi’s life in the Punjab province of Tehsil Mian Channu, northeastern Pakistan, took a sudden turn when her husband had a heart attack and was unable to work. Without warning, she became the sole provider for her six children and her spouse.

At the time, the few goats that Bibi's family owns were her only means making a living. Fortunately, however, Bibi learned through a neighbour about the Community Empowerment through Livestock Development and Credit (CELDAC) project, a partnership between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Nestle Pakistan that teaches veterinary skills to women, enabling them to become ‘Lady Livestock Workers.'

Highlights

  • A community empowerment programme is providing Punjab women with veterinary and entrepreneurial skills.
  • Since the programme began in 2006, more than 2,500 'Lady Livestock Workers' in more than 1,200 villages in Punjab have been trained.
  • Though Pakistan's gender inequality index is improving, pro-women sectors still receive less in government budget allocations.

Faiza Effendi, Chief of the Poverty Reduction Unit at UNDP Pakistan, explained that the initiative is crucial to empowering the female population because “in rural Pakistan, traditionally, women are the primary livestock caretakers. Such programmes help bring women into the official labour force.”

Bibi and thousands of other rural women received a month of training at the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, one of the project’s key partners. They acquired veterinary skills and learned about farm management, entrepreneurship, milk collection and commercial milk marketing.

After completing the programme and becoming a qualified 'Lady Livestock Worker,' Bibi was able to provide medical treatment to her goats. She also became more knowledgeable about livestock handling techniques.

Today, Bibi offers her services to her fellow villagers. She sees up to 15 cases each week and receives an average of 1500-3,000 Rupees (US$19-37), a good income in the context of rural Punjab.

“Now I have my own identity and it makes me confident,” Bibi said. ”I have a better place in my community and my husband acknowledges my contribution to the family income.”

Since the project began in 2006, more than 2,500 'Lady Livestock Workers' in more than 1,200 Punjabi villages have been trained. Of these trainees, more than half are independent entrepreneurs, working as livestock health caretakers, animal feed suppliers and village milk collectors for various companies.

Access to markets

In addition to providing training sessions, the programme also partners with the Government’s livestock department and with the dairy industry to ensure continued technical support and greater access to markets for the women.

Additionally, with the Project’s support, the Lady Livestock Workers have established linkages with pharmaceutical companies to ensure a prompt and sustainable supply of veterinary medicines at competitive prices. As a result, the entire community benefits from receiving good quality, timely and cost-effective veterinary services right at their doorsteps.

“Engaging and training women as livestock managers not only empowers women but enables the Government to extend livestock services to the most remote areas,” Effendi added. “This is a key lynchpin to the livestock development policy in Pakistan.”