Defending animals: Women in the forefront

October 5, 2019

Jane Goodall, Brigitte Bardot and Ellen DeGeneres are well known, but millions of other women are also committed to the cause. The statistics are revealing: worldwide, between 68% and 80% of the people who defend animal rights are women. In shelters, where thousands of animals are abandoned every day, the percentage is striking. At the SPCA in Montreal, for instance, 85% of the staff are women, a fact which doesn’t surprise Elise Desaulniers, executive director of the organization. “Women have always been committed to the animal cause,” she says. “In the 19th century, women were the ones who started caring for stray cats and dogs, opening shelters, volunteering their time and donating money. In England, a number of suffragettes demonstrated against the practice of vivisection in medical schools (which were male-dominated at the time). It’s a fact that people working in the caring professions are mostly women; for example nurses, social workers, daycare educators. In the field of animal welfare, women worked in the shadows for a long time. While they were campaigning on the streets, looking after animals and organizing fundraising campaigns, men, who were perceived as being more rational and hence more credible, were the directors and the spokespeople. Today, thankfully, several women lead animal welfare organizations. It remains to be seen whether women will be able to get over the next obstacle: making governments take the cause seriously by improving laws in order to better protect animals.” (Louise Dugas)

Credits: Virginie Simoneau-Gilbert, In the name of animals: The history of the Montreal SPCA 1869-2019


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