Closing the gender gap and breaking the bias with Women Agripreneurs
Pakistan’s agricultural industry, including dairy farming, is thriving on the shoulders of women workforce. From harvesting and weeding to livestock, women are involved in all crucial stages. However, unfortunately, due to lack of education and resources, majority of their labor goes unpaid and unrecorded. Recognizing their significant contributions, FCEPL empowers women to be at the forefront of their relevant fields; particularly through its initiative ‘Enhancing Women’s Income through Dairy’.
Under EWID, since 2019, 3000 women have received Basic Livestock Training, whereas 110 and 20 women have been trained as Livestock Extension Workers and Milk Collection Agents respectively. The trainings have not only increased animal productivity and collective yield, but they have also effectuated sustainable transformations in women’s lives and surroundings.
Aqsa, a dairy farmer from Vehari, strongly believes that she has “brought some change in her society”. After her mother’s death at a young age, Aqsa had to take responsibility for her siblings. She quit school and had to find a way to put bread on the table. In 2021, when she started working as an MCA, she faced resistance from people in her village. They weren’t used to seeing women step out to work. However, observing a change in this mindset, she said “But now if girls are educated, I see them pursuing professional lives.”
On the other hand, Aqsa’s sister, Ansa, proudly declares that running her farm has given her financial independence and confidence. She feels that now, “she can actively communicate with others without hesitation”.
It is evident that presence of women farmers like Aqsa and Ansa in the dairy workforce carve a path for other women in their region to think outside of the four walls and consider their futures. It is not only about including another human in the value chain, but also bringing gender diversity at its every step. So far, FCEPL has empowered more than 8,200 women by training them on how to run a farm and collect milk as part of their Dairy Development Programme.
For Mehrunnissa, a Female Livestock Extension Worker from Chichawatni, Sahiwal, the FCEPL training was a real game-changer. “Women work all the time anyway. [But] when they step out, they learn how to be confident. My home has become much happier and my children’s futures more secured,” she said. Similarly, Tehmina Majiid, young FLEW from Vehari, says that working with FCEPL gave her courage, confidence, and financial independence. “I was the light at the end of the tunnel for my family,” she said. “Had my father been alive, he would have been proud to see what I have become.”
Undoubtedly, these women are improving the quality of lives of themselves as well as the people around them. They are breaking biases about women in their societies and inspiring other girls to pursue professional careers. Watching them grow, the impact of FCEPL’s initiative becomes a reality and translates into long-term benefits in the form of higher yields, more employment opportunities for women and a boost to rural economy.