Women taking the lead in livestock

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, Inga Drosse – Elanco’s incoming General Manager for the South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa (SASSA) region – explains why her new role is more than a job.

After living in Germany my whole life and a 15-year career here, I’m packing my things to head to Johannesburg, South Africa to take up a role as General Manager for the SASSA region.

It makes me one of a few senior women in a male-dominated industry. According to WILMAH (Women in Leadership and Management in Animal Health), just 15 per cent of current top executives at 10 of the largest veterinary pharmaceutical companies are female.

Now I’m also working in a region where the balance between men and women is skewed – despite the economic contribution of working women across Africa. Many African countries rely on smallholder farmers and traders, the majority of whom are women providing for their families.

Women like Modesta Joseph Masanyiwa, who lives in the village of Nyang’homango in the Mwanza region of Tanzania. A single mother to four children, Modesta’s only source of income comes from raising chickens. When they died from disease outbreaks, she didn’t know what to do but a new radio program series is helping to support her farming efforts.

“I lost 15 chickens; it was all I was depending on, but radio programs have renewed my hope,” she says.

Modesta was practising traditional animal husbandry for years until a team of experts, visited her village and offered guidance on the latest practices. She then started tuning in to a series of radio shows (a partnership with Farm Radio International and Elanco’s East Africa Growth Accelerator initiative, the EAGA) designed to support and educate small-scale livestock farmers in North Tanzania. Modesta is seeing results from the advice she has put into practice.

“All of my chickens were dying. But now my chickens are not dying because I know the protective measures,” she explains.

I am excited to see the wider impact of our EAGA initiative, as women like Modesta share their experiences with other women so they too can better support their families. Studies have shown empowering greater numbers of women smallholders, improves household wellbeing and food security[1] as well as health and nutritional outcomes[2] .

Modesta’s story is an example of the power of building supportive networks. In my new role, I’m not only looking forward to seizing the opportunities it brings but building networks like those that have helped support me in my career.

Challenges are there to be accepted and the beauty of an organisation such as Elanco is that there will always be a support network to help. By the same token, we should always make ourselves part of someone else’s network – it’s critical if we are to make progress.

Find out more about the Elanco East Africa Growth Accelerator and Farm Radio International.

[1] (Sharaunga et al.,2015; Wilcox et al., 2015; Bobonis, 2009)
[2] (Deere, Oduro,Swaminathan, and Doss, 2013; Duflo, 2012; Malapit, Kadiyala, Quisumbing, Cunningham, and Tyagi, 2013; Sharaunga et al., 2015)

About Inga Drosse

Inga Drosse is a trained veterinarian and has a PhD from the university of Munich, Germany.

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About Inga Drosse

Inga Drosse is a trained veterinarian and has a PhD from the university of Munich, Germany.

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