Women and livestock: Global challenge dialogue

Poverty has a woman’s face. ILRI is facilitating a global e-consultation to fight poverty through women and livestock.

Over the coming months ILRI will be facilitating a Global Challenge Dialogue on Women and Livestock. This e-consultation will involve knowledgeable and influential thinkers and doers from around the world. They will be invited to take up the challenge of fighting poverty through women and livestock; to create new ways to empower women livestock keepers to further develop themselves, their families, their communities and their nations.

The Challenge Dialogue is about deepening understanding of the challenge, seeking ideas, and devising a strategy and action plan that will realize tangible impacts.

At the end of six months participants will have developed:
A first assessment of the global value of livestock-keeping by women.
A list of major opportunities in enhancing women’s contribution to livestock development.
A roadmap showing how joint actions will lead to real improvements to poor women’s lives, communities and environments.
Proposals for activities that help poor women get even more benefits from livestock.

Why are livestock so important to women?

Poverty has a woman’s face. Women do two thirds of the world’s work, and produce half the world’s food, yet earn only a tenth of the world’s income and own less than a hundredth of the world’s property. Of the 600 million poor livestock keepers in the world, around two thirds are women and most live in rural areas.

There is a special relationship between women and livestock. Poor women can own livestock when they are denied land. Looking after livestock fits well with their work of running households and raising families. Hundreds of millions of women livestock farmers daily tend sheep, goats and chickens, milk cows, buy and prepare food, plant and harvest crops, weed their plots, look after children, clean their home, fetch and carry water and firewood, prepare every meal for the family, care for the sick and elderly, while often simultaneously running small informal businesses – selling milk, eggs, fruits and vegetables – in market centres and along roadsides.

Women are the great unsung heroes of agricultural development. They are the farm and market managers who make agriculture viable, the glue that holds families and communities together, the stewards who safeguard their environments for the generations to come.

What can be done to better lives through ‘livestock women’?

Broad change will enable women to get more out of livestock. Change is needed in the ways governments, NGOs, and researchers support women livestock keepers. Change is needed in the ways societies value women’s work. Change is needed in service delivery to women farmers.

Patti Kristjanson, leader of this Challenge Dialogue, says:

‘To alleviate severe poverty, we need to change institutions and to engage women. Knowledge and technology is important, but it’s not enough. We have to change our ways of working and give poor people the lead in building their own futures.

‘We already have the skills and tools to bring about meaningful changes. We need the will to make them happen. By working together, we can start to solve a problem too big for any one person, organisation or institution to address alone’ said Kristjanson.

Challenge Dialogue: a new kind of consultation

A ‘Challenge Dialogue’ is a disciplined process of defining a specific challenge, engaging diverse stakeholders in a productive conversation focused on co-creating solutions, and taking action towards the solutions.

It is a proven vehicle for taking groups of more than 100 people through a structured conversation over several months focused on developing alignment and agreement around a plan for solving complex tasks.

‘Challenge Dialogue’ is particularly useful when faced with a significant opportunity or problem to be solved, when you need to bring people together that don’t normally work as a team and get them collaborating quickly and effectively, and you want to move to action within a defined timeframe.

Patti Kristjanson, ILRI’s Innovation Works leader says ‘The idea behind the Challenge Dialogue is that we involve as many diverse participants as possible and engage them in a bigger conversation. Everyone’s opinions are encouraged – thus we get diversity of views and a free flow of innovative ideas and solutions.

The Challenge Dialogue System (CDS) has been developed by Innovation Expedition. See http://www.innovationexpedition.com

The global Challenge Dialogue on Women and Livestock will involve people who are passionate about reducing poverty and improving poor women’s lives. Participants will generate excitement, interest and evidence about how ‘livestock women’ can improve lives and reduce world poverty. It will bring in partners, investments and actions that will better support women livestock keepers and, through them, their vulnerable children, communities and environments.

For more information about ILRI Challenge Dialogues visit the Innovation Works initiative at http://www.ilri.org/innovationworks

If you are interested in participating in the Global Challenge Dialogue on Women and Livestock, please contact Patti Kristjanson. Please provide a brief summary of your background and interests.

Further Information contact:

Patti Kristjanson

Innovation Works Leader
International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)
Nairobi
Kenya
p.kristjanson@cgiar.org

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