Context: Women play leading roles in livestock production

Livestock are a powerful but neglected asset for hundreds of millions of families. Reducing gender disparities is essential to realizing their potential to reduce poverty and malnutrition and expand economic opportunities for everyone and especially for women and girls.

Core message


  • Livestock keeping is often the sole option for women to earn a living and support their families. Women thus dominate the most labour-intensive parts of managing livestock. They handle most of the feeding and milking and they care for sick animals.


  • However, most women who raise livestock lack equal access to resources like land, labour, feed, veterinary services, financing, technical advice and breeding support. They tend to own fewer, and less valuable, animals such as sheep, goats or chickens.


  • Lack of equal control over productive resources and spending choices means that women often struggle to operate profitable livestock-related businesses. Women who have equal access to productive resources – and an equal say in managing their animals and the income they earn – have greater control over their own lives and they tend to invest more of their income in their families.


  • ‘Control’ and an equal voice by women on decisions about breeding, slaughtering and selling livestock and spending the income they earn is the most important issue.


  • So long as this largest part of the sector’s workforce is excluded from ownership and control and left out of support services, productivity of the livestock they keep will certainly lag.


Download a report with this and other evidence of ‘why livestock matter