Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate For Change: The Role of Women in Commercialising Small Ruminant Value Chains

Dear Editor,

On this particular day, I write to emphasise the role that women play in the development of small ruminants (goat and sheep) value chains in Zambia.

This year’s International Women’s Day theme was, “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change”. The theme focuses on innovative ways in which we can advance gender equality and the empowerment of women, particularly in the areas of social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure (UN WOMEN 2018). The theme resonates very well with the current government efforts of commercialising the small ruminant value chain in anticipation for the much talked about Saudi Arabian goat and sheep export market. It is worth noting that the small ruminant commercialisation agenda is championed by among others, two women who are so passionate about it. These are none other than, the Minister of Fisheries and Livestock, Honourable Kampamba Mulenga-Chewe, and the Chairperson of the Zambia Goats and Sheep Task Force, Mrs Veronica Sampa-Pepala. I have previously written on the significance of commercialising the small ruminant value in Zambia in the article accessible on this link
(https://diggers.news/guest-diggers/2018/12/14/commercialising-the-small-ruminants-value-chain-will-have-broad-and-significant-socioeconomic-impact-on-rural-livelihoods-in-zambia/).

One of the significant benefits of developing small ruminant value chains, which I highlighted in the article, was, “gender and social inclusiveness in national economic activities. In most cultures in Zambia, men own cattle and only a son inherit when the male household head passes on. However, women mostly own small livestock such as goats and chickens. Commercialising the small ruminant value chain will involve more women and other marginalised communities in livestock production. A joint involvement of male and female in goat rearing regardless of social strata is a catalyst for national socioeconomic development”. This statement is in line with this years theme.

As we are developing small ruminant value chains, let us think equal by ensuring that women are not left behind. Women can efficiently be organised in cooperatives that can drive the small ruminants value chains development agenda. Let us make deliberate efforts to build or develop small ruminant market models, services and infrastructure that will not exclude the needs of women. Similarly, innovations and technologies in the development of the small ruminant value chains must be gender responsive in order to achieve transformative gains to the Zambian economy. This means that women’s ideas and experiences must equally influence the design and implementation of market innovations that will improve small ruminants production and productivity. I believe that the stakeholders involved in the small ruminant value chain development agenda will consider this theme as they are commercialising value chains. Indeed time is now, let us think equal, build smart and innovate for the transformation of the small ruminants value chains. Let me end by calling on all women to take interest and be involved in the small ruminants value chains development. I wish all women a happy women’s day.

The author is a Senior Lecturer of Livestock/Animal Health Economics at the University of Zambia, School of Veterinary Medicine. Email: cmumba@unza.zm, Mobile: +260977717258

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