My favorite news story of the week and possibly the month comes from Pakistan, where the Prime Minister Imran Khan hopes to alleviate poverty by giving women chickens. The response to this plan has involved a lot of snickering and jokes at his expense.
But as Myrah Nerine Butt pointed out in Dawn, quoted in The Week magazine (12/21/18, p. 15), the people doing the jeering are far removed from the context and experience of real rural women.
This situation is strikingly similar to the way politicians in many countries, including this one, approach rural problems: from a safe distance that means they are ignorant of the issues.
In Pakistan, for example, chickens are better than cash because while money can be spent on anything, including gambling, a chicken can be primarily an investment or a saving. The man of the house may take cash for his own uses, but most of the men want nothing to do with chickens which are seen as “culturally inferior” to cows or goats. (Ranch women in this country, who know how tough cows can be, are laughing uproariously at this idea.)
Meanwhile, the chicken owned by a woman can produce eggs to sell. Some of those eggs can become more chickens, allowing a woman to increase her own business. This is no get-rich-quick scheme, but even a single chicken can produce a steady basic income for a woman who pays attention to detail, as well as helping to nourish her household.
Linda M. Hasselstrom
Windbreak House Writing Retreats
Hermosa, South Dakota
© 2019, Linda M. Hasselstrom
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