8 March 2024

“Champions of change and compassion” - the vital relationship between women and working animals

Women around the world depend on working animals to help them shine in their communities. Many of them are key contributors to their household income, as well as the wellbeing and health of their family, making them champions of change and compassion. 

This International Women’s Day, Brooke highlights the vital and interconnected relationship between women and animals in developing countries - supporting SDG 5: Gender Equality.

Entrepreneurship and empowerment

In Tanzania, Upendo owes the success of her business to her donkeys, who help people in her community carry charcoal and firewood. With savings from the business, Upendo has been able to set up a local restaurant, which in turn covers the cost to buy feed and cover transportation costs for her donkeys. 

Upendo believes that without donkeys, she would still be trapped in poverty - she wouldn’t be able to “do business, till the land or even rear livestock”. She has developed a strong bond with her animals, who respond to their individual names. This is “one of the unique things she sees in them”. 

Upendo’s financial independence has helped her to understand the importance of gender equality - “I am now in a culture where men and women have equal rights, even in work.”

Water, farming and everyday chores

Margaret lives in Kenya with her family, assisted by her donkeys to collect water, go to the market and help on her husband’s farm. Relieving her of domestic chores and for business to make money, her donkey “is like my entire life, it helps me in so many ways.” During times of drought, these animals become even more crucial to the families who depend on them. 

Margaret is part of a women’s donkey welfare group, facilitated by Brooke East Africa’s partner, Farming Systems Kenya (FSK). If a woman in the group has her donkey stolen, the other members ensure she is still able to access water with the aid of their animals - “we help each other like that.”

Margaret urges people to “protect our donkeys because they are the source of our daily lives.”

Community leaders

25-year-old Khady Diouf lives in Senegal with her husband and three children, and has dedicated her life to promoting good animal welfare practices within her community. 

After receiving training and support from Brooke, Khady decided to become a Community Animator, so that she could “raise awareness…about horse and donkey welfare, how to take care of animals and the importance of them.”

Owning a horse herself, Khady is confident in how to handle, approach and take care of animals. She “likes the fact that I can speak to people in my community and share my knowledge with them.”                       

Drawing on her expertise as a Community Animator, Khady has become a leading voice in a biogas project in local schools, supported by Brooke. The project is made up of almost all women, and Khady hopes it will not only generate income for their childrens’s school, “but also for the women themselves as they grow more crops to sell” - with the support of their animals.