Meet the goat doctors of Mhaswad—a team of seven feisty women who have broken every stereotype by qualifying to treat and artificially inseminate goats. Taking into account the sizeable goat population in the region, the Mann Deshi Foundation came up with the idea of inseminating goats just like other cattle. The women underwent training at the Nimbkar Agriculture Research Institute (NARI) and learnt how to inject semen straws into a goat on heat. For each house call they are paid Rs.150, and undertake at least 25 such visits a month. This is in addition to the Rs.4,000 they earn from the Foundation.
“I had actually gone to learn tailoring when the Mann Deshi bus came to the village. When I heard about this programme, I thought why not try and help villagers look after the goats in our area,” says Sangeeta Tupe. “Initially, my family was shocked at my choice. Today, my daughter is so proud when they call me a doctor.”
Nanda, another member of the team, says that she had to support herself and her son after her husband left her. “From a timid person who would not have dreamt of speaking to a group of people, I have now gained enough confidence to conduct awareness programmes. Even government officials have congratulated me on the work we do!”
While “goat doctoring” seems a radical career choice at first for women in the rural belt, it does not appear all that unusual once you witness the deep connect between people and the animals they work with. In a traditional patriarchal set-up, it is difficult for a woman to leave the house especially when a call comes at odd hours, but the goat doctors have been so successful at what they do that such perceptions have undergone a complete change. Today, the respect they command from the villagers makes their families immensely proud, says Sangeeta.