Friday, March 10, 2017

whose animal? whose work? whose money? a gender reflection from Atbsi

On my last trip to Atsbi, we met two farmers who kept dairy cattle : one man, one women.

For the women, she clearly felt that the animal was a common ownership between her and her husband. When we interviewed her, the husband had gone with the animals to the water point.
the woman farmer we interviewed
She would feed and milk the cow. She showed us how to prepare and mix feed for the animals, she got training for that. Having a Holstein dairy cow increased her labor, as she is now preparing optimal feed for the cow. She mentioned that this was now possible because her children are a bit older. A quick look at her children told me she meant no breastfeeding anymore.

She was selling the milk to the cooperative. It was difficult to understand what she does with the money. As far as we understood, part of it would go to buy the concentrate feed, and this could be done either by him or her. If he goes she would give him the money for that.
homestead of the woman farmer
Clearly, in this household, the care of the animals at home was a woman's duty, no wonder she had small children and she would stay at home. The husband would take over the tasks a bit further from home such as going to water points or getting feed.

We got at very different picture from the landless dairy cow keeper in the settlement. The cow was his and he would fully take care of it, from feed to milking and selling. His wife had a job, and the livestock was his activity and a secondary income for the household. He was a carpenter and keeping livestock was not his first choice. But he said that now he sees the benefit, he is happy with it.
the male farmer and his calf
Clearly we did not interview a representative sample size, but from the two interviews we had, it is clear that gender role in livestock keeping can be very different in each households even when they are less than 2 km apart.

I still wonder why i did not ask the man what he does with the money he makes from milk, and who takes the decision on how to spend it. Is that my own gender bias?

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