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Supporting women’s agency and empowerment in East Africa

May 13, 2019

Women in Rwanda, Kenya, and Uganda make up a majority of smallholder livestock farmers. They face a significant burden from highly contagious yet preventable diseases that affect their animals. Livestock diseases such as peste des petits ruminants, Rift Valley fever, and Newcastle disease present major production challenges. These diseases are highly contagious and their high mortality rate often devastates the livestock farming economy. Women are disproportionately affected because they bear primary responsibility for caring for diseased animals and because of their reliance on the income their livestock provides.

Research highlights

  • Empowering women to participate more fully in the livestock vaccine distribution and delivery chain as decision-makers, vaccine distributors, service providers, and livestock keepers.
  • Training future veterinarians and livestock advisors to improve their understanding of gender issues, communicate more effectively with women farmers, and advocate for policies and activities beneficial for women as well as men.
  • Fostering greater gender equity, improving livelihoods, and supporting sustainable growth in East Africa.

Despite much of this burden being preventable through vaccination, women farmers rarely benefit from livestock vaccines. However, new research is examining ways to reduce the gendered barriers that women face in accessing livestock vaccines. 

Gendered barriers to the vaccine value chain

Multiple barriers impede women from fully benefiting from livestock vaccines. These include unsuitable vaccines, lack of extension services, and unreliable structures for vaccine delivery. These barriers, as well as women’s limited decision-making agency in their households and communities, are key reasons  for the low adoption of the vaccines in Africa.

More attention is needed on the gender-related technical, social, cultural, and economic barriers preventing women from contributing to and benefiting from the vaccine value chain as entrepreneurs, community animal health workers, and livestock keepers.

Participatory research for impact

The goal of this project is to identify ways to improve women’s access to livestock vaccines and enhance their participation in vaccine distribution, delivery, and use. The project will work directly with business owners/vaccinators to reduce gender barriers through training and it will focus on increasing women’s access to formal paid work as community-based animal health workers, veterinarians, livestock advisors, and other roles in the community.

The project will also set up a Livestock Vaccine Innovation Platform that brings stakeholders together to assess bottlenecks and identify opportunities where they can achieve common goals and develop and implement more gender-responsive public services, policies, and strategies. The results generated will identify opportunities for empowering women smallholder farmers and entrepreneurs to contribute to and benefit from livestock vaccines, thereby improving livestock production and women’s livelihoods.

Lead institutions

This project is a collaboration between Tufts University in the United States and One Health Central and Eastern Africa in Uganda.

  • Duration: 36 months
  • Budget: CA$1.55 million