We work with women

An estimated two-thirds of livestock keepers in developing countries – approximately 400 million – are women. Brooke works to enhance the mutually beneficial relationship women have with working horses, donkeys and mules and advocates for this relationship to be recognised in gender and livestock policy.

Women in some of the world’s poorest communities depend on working horses and donkeys to support them with physically demanding and time consuming tasks such as fetching water and food, or agricultural work like ploughing and harvesting. Without their animals, this strenuous work would need to be done manually, predominantly by women and young girls.

Equines also make a vital contribution to family livelihoods, transporting produce to market, carrying building material or carrying tourists. Income from these working animals helps women pay for household essentials such as healthcare, food and their children’s education.

The donkey affects each and every aspect of my life as a woman. On a typical day, the donkey fetches water which I use to do the laundry, to do the dishes, to clean the house and for bathing.

Lucy, Kenya

Empowering women for long lasting change

Owning and caring for equines, alongside earning income from their work, raises women’s social status and recognition in the community. Equines help with household chores, which frees up time for women to participate in other social and economic activities.

Brooke’s policy brief ‘Invisible Livestock – benefits, threats and solutions’ explains how working equines contribute to sustainable development goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 5 on gender equality.

Our ‘Invisible Livestock: Voices from Women’ report explores the role of working horses, mules and donkeys in supporting the lives of women from the perspectives of the women themselves.

Good welfare means better lives for families

In many countries, women are the primary carers of equine animals, providing them with feed, shelter and in some cases, first aid. Despite this role, however, many women have no access to education and training in equine health.

With Brooke’s support, women are forming their own equine welfare groups. This not only gives them the opportunity to learn good welfare practices, but also increases their reliance on each other by working together as a group, sharing resources and saving money to support members during hard times. For example, if one woman can’t afford treatment for their horse if it becomes sick, she can dip in to the group fund to get a loan, without having to worry about long term debt.

Working with women to raise their awareness of good animal welfare practices like mixing inexpensive nutritious food, keeping stables clean, and picking out feet regularly, directly improves the lives of working horses, donkeys and mules. Good equine welfare is a necessity for women and their families.

Before Brooke’s intervention, we don’t have the opportunity to join equine welfare group. After Brooke, we got the knowledge and skills on how to improve husbandry practices.

Muslima Nuriye, Ethiopia

Read more about the women who are improving equine welfare

Gori Aslam and her family are part of a rubbish collecting community in Pakistan. As well as working and looking after her family, Gori also cares for their donkey, Ladu, who is the family's only source of income.

In Samathal Village, women are establishing groups to increase their skills and knowledge of equine welfare.