Ayesha Ghani, a 21-year-old girl from Gulshan-e-Iqbal Karachi, partakes in an activity that has long been believed to be a ‘man’s job’ in our society.
If you happen to drop by Karachi’s Super-Highway cattle market (Mandi), you will come across a confident young woman selling sacrificial animals this Eid-Al-Azha. From raising to feeding to cleaning them, Ayesha tends these animals all by herself. The budding business girl also sells her cattle online by uploading their pictures on social media.
Ayesha says that she has always been fond of animals, and that, in times like these, it is humans and not the “bechare masoom…bezuban janwar” that one should be afraid of.
It has also been reported that Ayesha brought 36 animals from a village, and she has already managed to sell 12 of them. Her cattle stall includes goats, cows, calves which range from approximately 1 lac to 5 lacs. She also takes pride in her bargaining skills and the way she attends to her customers, who often pitch prices much lower than the actual worth but this confident sales-girl never shies away from bidding the right deal. So far, the highest that she has sold is for 2 lac 20 thousand rupees. Besides being the now-famous cattle girl and an amazing trader, Ayesha is also a gym instructor and a biker.
Speaking to a local news channel, Ayesha shared some of her thoughts:
“ba-himat rehna chye larkion ko or aage bhi barhan chye…ek qadam meiney barhaya hai, aur larkian bhi aagey ayenge”
Ayesha’s prominent presence in a Bakra Mandi reminds us of our upheld unequal societal norms that have long come to define these so-called ‘appropriate jobs’ for men and women; Ayesha’s bravery is one step forward in changing the mindset of people who regard places like a Bakra Mandi as a ‘man’s space‘; Ayesha’s bold market dealing with male customers is an inspiration for aspiring businesswomen who, unfortunately, succumb to the prevalent societal pressures and conservative values.
Rural Women as Cattle Herders
While we applaud the courage of this young city-girl, let’s not forget to acknowledge and appreciate the fundamental role rural women continue to play in the livestock sector of Pakistan. From grazing to collecting fodder to making dung and manure to cleaning to rearing cattle, it is no surprise that our village women work earnestly and contribute significantly towards livestock production and the farming activities of Pakistan.
In fact, sometimes, these rural women trek from their villages to cities alongside their cattle just so they can sell milk and make their financial ends meet. On the streets of Karachi, we have often seen village women proudly displaying their reared camels in an attempt to sell its fresh-milk to the passers-by. They are usually seen convincing their customers about the hygienic benefits of drinking camel’s pure milk.
Every year at the time of Eid-al-Azha, a lot of women cattle herders from tribes like Bagri migrate from Sukkur, Khairpur, and other places of interior Sindh to urban cities to sell their animals for a living. Unfortunately, their hard work and presence are often ignored and are viewed as just another mundane task; it rarely receives any highlight, celebration, or attention by our public, media, and the government.
This calls for our government to create more opportunities for women, hailing from both rural and urban areas, to run small-businesses in livestock production. This will not only allow them to upgrade their skills and knowledge in poultry farming but will help them secure employability and financial stability in life.
Kudos to all women, regardless of their class and background, for their tireless efforts!
Hiba Shoaib is a student of social development and policy at Habib University. She is currently working as an Undergraduate Research Fellow at Center for Transdisciplinary Design and Innovation Lab. As an aspiring policy-practitioner, she aims to address socio-economic concerns. She uses her research and critical-writing skills to empower people and advocate for social justice.