Gender in Ethnoveterinary Medicine

Outreach Clinic-9

Gender plays an important role in Ethnoveterinary medicine. Women are often the primary carers for livestock in smallholder systems in developing communities. As such, much of the health care, feeding and husbandry falls to them. Traditionally, research carried out in patriarchal cultures focused on male informants and produced incomplete and skewed data. Therefore, the inclusion of women in research, and also in health care interventions, is vital to the success of any program. EVM knowledge and oral transmission are often gendered and while women are usually primary health carers, in patriarchal societies men are the carriers of oral lineages such as EVM.

As described on this website:

“One of the first studies to document gender was conducted by Diana Davis who noted a difference in knowledge of EVM of Afghan Pashtun nomads that paralleled the gender-based division in the society. Davis found that women know more about healthcare for newborns and very sick animals that are taken care of near the home. Since women prepare the carcass for consumption they know twice as many types of internal parasites as men. Women also help with dystocias and the manual removal of ectoparasites.

Another study is that of the Tzotzil Maya shepherdesses who developed their own breed of sheep and have their own husbandry and healthcare system based on their traditions (Perezgrovas, 1996). In research conducted in Trinidad it was noted that male farmers were using the reproductive knowledge of their female relatives to assist in the health care of their ruminants. Female farmers were using the same plants for their animals that they used for themselves (Lans, 2004).

Women are not trained as traditional Dinka healers (atet) in Sudan (VSF/Switzerland, 1998). However, female-headed households are increasing in Sudan due to war, and women are thus more visible as livestock rearers.”

In India, ANTHRA is a organisation of female veterinarians working on EVM and livestock health in rural and subsistance communities. They have been documenting and validating EVM in India and found women are responsible for 50 – 90% of the work related to livestock care. but they were denied access to EVM knowledge because of its partilineal oral transmission in India’s patriarchial society.

Some other interesting studies on gender and EVM include:

Gender, Indigenous Knowledge, and Pastoral Resource Use in Morocco


Working Paper No. 3 – Feminist Methods: Women’s Traditional Health Knowledge and Ethnoveterinary Knowledge


Gender in the management of indigenous knowledge: reflections from Indian Central Himalaya


Gender issues in family poultry production systems in low-income food-deficit countries


A framework for the analysis of gender, intra-household dynamics, and livestock disease control with examples from Uasin Gishu district, Kenya


“Overcoming gender barriers: Local animal knowledge in animal health healing” in Livelihood and Gender: Equity in Community Resource Management.

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