Senegal and Togo

Still a minority : integration of women in the veterinary sector


Etudiantes de l'ISFAR (Institut Supérieur de Formation Agricole et Rurale) au Sénégal. Photo © OMSA

Women-students at the ‘Institut Supérieur de Formation Agricole et Rurale’ (ISFAR, Higher agricultural and rural training institute) in Senegal. Picture © WOAH.



A new qualitative study by the World Organisation for Animal Health in West Africa, specifically Senegal and Togo, identifies constraints and opportunities relating to women in the field of animal health. The study focused on education for veterinary paraprofessionals, career pathways and animal health service delivery and identifies how veterinary services can promote greater equality for women and men in the sector.

Study highlights include:

  • Limited information is available around gender and veterinary services in Africa;
  • Senegal and Togo have made good progress on strengthening regulatory and policy frameworks to promote gender equality, bringing credibility and political legitimacy to discussions on the issue;
  • However, women are under-represented in the animal health landscape: despite increasing numbers, particularly in Senegal, women are still very much a minority in the veterinary services sector and among students. The low representation of women in veterinary care is partly due to specific constraints which reduce women’s access to veterinary education and then barriers which impede their career pathways;
  • A range of specific barriers to education make enrolment and completion of studies difficult for some young women, including, perceptions and self-confidence to enrol and succeed, lack of financial support, unsuitable accommodation, lack of opportunities to gain practical experience (sometimes due to preferences for men), lack of role models in the sector.

Enseignantes de l'INFA (Institut National de Formation Agricole) au Togo. Photo © AF Thierry (2023)

Generally speaking, female students seem to show better attendance and academic results than male students, with levels of oral participation judged to be equivalent. Lecturers nonetheless consider that female students take less initiative, show less leadership, are less proficient with digital tools and participate less in practical classes than the male students.

In terms of career pathways, women are more likely to work in the public sector and in urban areas in response to the constraints they face, such as security and the need for work to be compatible with family life. Women face challenges in getting promoted and in setting up private businesses.



Lecturers of the ‘Institut National de Formation Agricole’ (INFA, National agricultural training institute) in Togo. Picture © AF Thierry (2023)

Strong stereotypes from both women and men include features like lack of physical strength and a fear of animals attributed to women. Yet there are differences in perception from one generation to the next, and the current trend among young people is a lessening of such stereotypes. Risks of gender-based violence are also present.

Study recommendations include:

– Improvements in policy and practices for veterinary paraprofessional training institutions to create conditions which promote women’s equality;

– Increased visibility of women in national Veterinary Services;

– Application of gender guidelines in the livestock sector, in line with national policy frameworks, such as, by:

  • raising awareness and training staff in gender mainstreaming,
  • supporting establishments and statutory organisations in setting up gender policies,
  • preventing and combating gender-based violence,
  • taking better account of the specific characteristics of female livestock farmers in access to healthcare.


Eleveuse de bovins au Togo. Photo © AF Thierry (2023)

Woman cattle farmer in Togo. Picture © AF Thierry (2023)





Veterinary statutory bodies and professional organisations have an important role to play by raising the profile of women in the veterinary and VPP professions, promoting the profession of women VPPs among livestock farmers, adapting practices and interventions to alleviate constraints faced by women, helping reconcile women’s work-life balance with the constraints of working in rural areas, and promoting the representation of women in decision-making bodies.

Une femme PPV au travail au Senegal. Photo (c) A. Badiane (2023)

Woman-VPP at work in Senegal. Picture (c) A. Badiane (2023)

Involvement of female and male livestock farmers

Male and female livestock farmers should be involved as stakeholders, for example, with increased representation of women community animal health workers, by encouraging the organisation of female livestock farmers within the various sectors and promoting the representation of women in the decision-making bodies of professional organisations, and by ensuring that training courses are adapted to the constraints and burdens of women livestock farmers.

For additional information, please contact


This study was financed by the 'Agence française de développement' (AFD, the French Development Agency) as part of the 'Professionalisation of veterinary para-professionals' project (P3V) in Senegal and Togo.

More information : download the full article

Gender study Senegal Togo 2024_WOAH
Gender study Senegal Togo 2024_WOAH

PDF - 520.99KB

Etude Genre Senegal Togo 2024_OMSA
Etude Genre Senegal Togo 2024_OMSA

PDF - 484.96KB

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