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Pakistan women-led livestock market gains international recognition

In rural provinces, women have always reared animals but are excluded from selling them. A new market is changing attitudes On Saturday, Rozina Ghulam Mustafa arrived at the market in Tando Allahyar city joining hundreds of women to trade animals at Marui livestock market.

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On Saturday, Rozina Ghulam Mustafa arrived at the livestock market in Tando Allahyar metropolis, Pakistan’s Sindh province, to promote the goats she had raised, milked and fed.

Usually, her brother sells the animals, however, he bought them too cheaply as a result he didn’t know their true worth. “He has always sold our goats at a much lower price,” she says, standing inside an enclosure with 15 of them.

Usually, her brother sells the animals, but he sold them too cheaply because he didn’t know their true value. “He has always sold our goats at a much lower price,” she says, standing inside an enclosure with 15 of them.

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A very big achievement indeed 

For Mustafa, joining hundreds of women to trade animals at the Marui livestock market – believed to be Pakistan’s first women-led livestock market – was a big moment.

By the afternoon, she had yet to sell any animals but was unperturbed. “That’s OK; it’s my first time and I will learn how to trade,” she says. “For the first time I felt free, I could make the decision of buying and selling myself.”

Women have always maintained animals in rural Pakistan, caring for their diet, milking, and vaccines, as well as keeping their barns and sheds clean. When it comes time to sell them, however, women are left out. It is considered a man’s role to take the animals to the market.

Rehmat, Mustafa’s 65-year-old mother, who accompanied her to the market with Mustafa’s brother, recalls that “it was unthinkable for a woman to come to the market and sell; it was a man’s work” when she was younger.

“I think this change is in the right direction. If women can rear, women can buy and sell, like men. What is so complicated about it?”

The market is busy. Children run between the animal enclosures and stalls selling homemade ghee (clarified butter), eggs, chickens, animal fodder and ornaments. Other stalls sell food, tea and hand-embroidered women’s clothing. The local government has a stall showcasing veterinary medicines.

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For Mustafa, becoming a member of a whole bunch of ladies to commerce animals at Marui livestock market – believed to be Pakistan’s first women-led livestock market – was a giant second.

By the afternoon, she had but to promote any animals, however, was unperturbed. “That’s OK; it’s my first time and I will learn how to trade,” she says. “For the first time I felt free, I could make the decision of buying and selling myself.”

Women in rural Pakistan have always reared cattle, providing adequate nutrition, milking, and vaccines while keeping their barns and sheds clean. When it comes time to buy them, however, girls are left out. Taking the animals to the market is considered a person’s work.

Rehmat, Mustafa’s 65-year-old mother, who accompanied her to the market with Mustafa’s brother, recalls how “it was unthinkable for a woman to come to the market and sell; it was a man’s work” when she was younger.

Perween Panhwar has just bought her first goat for 19,000 PKR (£80) to start her livestock farm. “When I heard there was a women-led livestock market, I wanted the first animal I buy for the farm to be from this market,” she says.