The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies
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Improved donkey health could empower women, study suggests 

Understanding how the health of working equids impacts the women who use them could enable effective policymaking. 

Research into the health of working donkeys, mules and horses in the Global South could benefit the lives of women who rely on them, research suggests. 

Improving the health of working equids could benefit women’s incomes and their access to basic needs such as healthcare and education for their children in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), a review study shows. 

The impact of equid health on women is poorly understood and research in this area could help identify potential policies to benefit women and their working animals, researchers from the Dick Vet and Brooke, Action for Working Horses and Donkeys found. 

Inclusive studies 

Future research with a One Health perspective – inclusive of people, animals and the environment – could clarify how women’s and animals’ health are linked, and help translate research findings into policy, the team recommends. 

Studies involving broad teams of specialists, and incorporating indigenous knowledge, could capture the impact of equid health on women from various perspectives, and help identify sustainable solutions, they say. 

The team further recommends that research teams include female researchers, to enable access to women within their own communities. 

Efforts to improve animal health should target diseases such as tetanus or wounds, or costly infections such as equine trypanosomiasis. The need is greatest in South and Central America and the Middle East, the team found. 

Improving the health of working equids could benefit women by helping them save time and effort in managing household tasks such as collecting food and firewood, in accessing education, or enabling them to transport goods for sale or travel to employment. 

It also aids children by enabling better access for families to healthcare, good hygiene, and education. The need is most pressing where women are head of the household, the team adds. 

Their research was published in CABI One Health.   

Working donkeys and similar animals are often neglected by policymakers because these are not a source of food. This is to the detriment of women as well as those who depend on women, and the animals themselves. 

We hope that by making policymakers aware of the socioeconomic impact of health problems in of these animals, especially from the female gender perspective, we can enable women and children in the Global South to benefit from better incomes and access to essential services and education.

Marta BonsiMSc graduate, R(D)SVS

Related links

Scientific publication 

Image credit: Atul Loke and Panos Pictures

About the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies

The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies is a one-of-a-kind centre of excellence in clinical activity, teaching and research. Our purpose-built campus, set against the backdrop of the beautiful Pentland Hills Regional Park, is home to more than 800 staff and almost 1400 students, all of whom contribute to our exceptional community ethos.

The School comprises:

The Roslin Institute

The Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems

The Roslin Innovation Centre

The Hospital for Small Animals

Equine Veterinary Services

Farm Animal Services

Easter Bush Pathology

The Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education

We represent the largest concentration of animal science-related expertise in Europe, impacting local, regional, national and international communities in terms of economic growth, the provision of clinical services and the advancement of scientific knowledge.