WOMEN, THE INVISIBLE HELPERS FOR HORSES, DONKEYS AND MULES IN THEIR LIVES

ARTICLE BY ALLISTER JACK

“EVEN IF SOMEONE SAID I LOOK LIKE A DONKEY, I WOULD JUST BE HAPPY AND EVEN WILLING TO BUY THEM A PRESENT, FOR I KNOW THE BENEFIT AND THE PROFIT I GET FROM THE DONKEYS, PHYLLIS WANJA, KENYA”

THESE WORDS OF PHYLLIS ARE SO TRUE AND HONORABLE, AND GIVE HOMAGE TO THE ROLE OF EQUINES IN THE DAILY LIVES OF RURAL WOMEN ALL OVER THE WORLD. IN THESE RURAL AREAS WOMEN ALWAYS DEPEND ON THE HORSE, DONKEY AND MULE FOR THEIR DAILY EXISTENCE AND SOCIO-ECONOMICAL GROWTH. IT DOESN’T MATTER IF IT IS IN SOUTH AFRICA, KENYA, INDIA, ETHIOPIA OR PAKISTAN THESE HOOF ANIMALS WILL ALWAYS BE RELIANT AS IT BRINGS MORE FINANCIAL STABILITY THAN A HERD BUFFALO.

MOST RURAL WOMEN SAY THAT THESE ANIMALS HELP THEM TO LIVE A “DIGITAL LIFE”, AS THEY GIVE THEM PEACE OF MIND. WOMEN DON’T HAVE TO GO THE ANALOGUE WAY, FOR EXAMPLE FETCHING WATER OR FIREWOOD FROM THE RIVER AND BUSH ON THEIR BACK AND HEADS INSTEAD THESE ANIMALS MAKES IT EASY FOR THEM TO GET IT HOME.

WOMEN ARE THE INVISIBLE WORKFORCE OF ECONOMIES AND HOUSEHOLDS WITH THEIR WORKING DONKEYS, HORSES AND MULES. AND THESE ANIMALS ARE THEIR INVISIBLE HELPERS.

IN RURAL AREAS WOMEN ARE THE PRIMARY CARERS FOR THE EQUINE DUE TO THE TRADITION OF THEM BEING THE HEAD OF THE HOUSEHOLD AND THE DAILY FUNCTIONS WOMEN HAVE TO DO TO MAKE SURE THAT THE EXTENDED FAMILY ARE CARED FOR.

STUDIES ALL OVER THE WORLD HAVE FOUND THAT EQUINE ANIMALS ARE MORE USED OR OWNED BY WOMEN FOR THE MERE FACT THAT THESE ANIMALS SUPPORT THE WOMEN TO CARRY OUT SOCIAL AND ECONOMICAL FUNCTIONS, AS WELL AS RAISING THEIR STATUS IN COMMUNITIES. THESE ANIMALS ARE MAINLY USED BY RURAL WOMEN TO TRANSPORT RUBBISH, TO TAKE PRODUCE TO THE MARKET, TO ASSIST THE ELDERLY AND CARGO IN AND FROM TOWN, IT IS ALSO USED AS AMBULANCE SERVICES IN DEEP RURAL AREAS AND WOMEN PRIDE THEMSELVES TO BE ASSOCIATED WITH THESE ANIMALS.

LIKE WOMEN, THESE ANIMALS ARE SIMULTANEOUSLY INVISIBLE AND SOMETIMES NOT RECOGNISED FOR THE GREAT ROLES THEY PLAY IN A SOCIETY, A SOCIETY THAT THINK MORE OF GLOBALISATION AND FORGETS HOW THESE ANIMALS WERE USED TO CHANGE THE WORLD AND ARE STILL BEING USED TO DO SO.  WOMEN ARE PROUD TO BE ASSOCIATED WITH EQUINES AS SOME ARE SAYING THEIR LIVING IS PRIMARILY DEPENDENT ON THEM AND IF THEY DON’T TAKE CARE OF THE ANIMALS THEIR FAMILIES CANNOT SURVIVE.

A CLEAR LINK IN POLICY AND PRACTICE SHOULD BE DRAWN BETWEEN WORKING EQUINE WELFARE AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT SO THAT WOMEN WHO ARE MAINLY DEPENDENT ON THE BENEFIT OF THE ANIMALS CAN PLAY A BIGGER ROLE WHEN POLICY AND LAWS ARE DEVELOPED. GOVERNMENT AND DONORS SHOULD GIVE GREATER PRIORITY TO MAKE SURE WOMEN HAVE ACCESS TO EXTENSIVE MEDICAL SERVICES, PROPER ACCREDITED TRAINING AND ALL OTHER SERVICES THAT ARE GIVEN.

WOMEN FEEL VERY PROUD IF THEY CAN WORK OR DRIVE THEIR DONKEY, HORSE OR MULE CARTS BECAUSE THERE IS A REAL BOND BETWEEN HUMAN AND EQUINE AND IT WILL CONTINUE FROM ONE GENERATION TO THE NEXT AND THE CULTURE WILL ALWAYS BE ALIVE IN RURAL AREAS ALL OVER THE WORLD.

“I’M SHORT OF WORDS TO DESCRIBE ALL THE BENEFITS OF A DONKEY, IT HAS REACHED A POINT WHERE I JUST SAY WHAT WE TELL GOD ‘THIS FAR IT’S THROUGH YOUR POWER AND WILL, FOR DONKEYS MEAN A LOT IN MY LIFE”

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