Empowering Dalit Women
In Fighting Poverty
Agrotech In Women Empowerment.
In India’s poorest rural families, goat rearing is an important source of income. Goats can be sold easily because they are always in demand as a source of food. In fact, goats are nicknamed “ATMs” because of they are a convenient source of cash.
Unlike more valuable operations on farms in India—crops or cattle, for example—goats are managed almost exclusively by women. They bring them out for grazing, take care of them when they’re ill, and sell them at the market.
And here’s the most critical point—the money women earn from their goats stays in their hands. With more control of their finances, women not only improve their status within the homes, but they also have greater ability to make decisions and have greater power over their own lives. Study after study shows that when women have cash, they will spend it on things that improve the quality of life for their family. That means more money for buying food to improve nutrition, schooling for children, visiting a doctor, or even building a toilet.
India has more than 135 million goats—one-sixth of the world’s goat population. And more than 70 percent of poor, rural families raise them. So, there is huge potential for goats to help boost women’s empowerment. But that potential has not been fully realized. Because of a lack of access to veterinary services in India, mortality rates for goats are as high as 40 percent. And ill or low-weight goats fetch lower prices in the marketplace.
Agrotech was formed by farmers of Villupuram district which is one of the poorest districts in India and has one of the country’s largest populations of goats. Working through local women’s groups, the program aims to increase incomes for 50,000 of India’s poorest women by 30 percent.