The term ‘shepherd’ has always brought the image of a man, usually Jesus, alone with his staff, pastures and flock. Despite two thousand years of development, many of us may find it difficult to imagine a different shepherd. This preconception is intertwined with the male dominant society, which, despite the vast improvement in the past few decades, still lingers as an inhibitory cloud for equal opportunity.
Although this cannot prevent people like Rocío from attaining their dreams, it only highlights that there are changes still to be made. Nowadays the prevalence of social media connects us around the globe, bringing together anyone and everyone who wishes to share a common thread. In this case it’s shepherds; but not only shepherds. A collective of women shepherd of Catalonia called RAMADERES.CAT are making an impression. Okay, maybe not an impact on the global scale, but for each member of this tight-knit group, the collaboration is priceless and the potential is soaring. Founded a couple of years ago on the heels of a similar group, one with more members and less specification, this non-mixed, exclusive group has a few strict guidelines for participation that are the key points in maintaining its efficacy. Besides being a woman, which is obligatory, another factor in admittance is the type of practice. RAMADERES.CAT only allows shepherds with an extensive farming system—meaning there is no room for the industrial system with as many animals packed into as small of a space possible.
Once admitted, this collective of around 70 mothers and daughters offers the platform for collaboration of countless resources: newcomer shepherds are helped with crucial tips and tricks for navigating the bureaucracy of raising animals; an experienced meat producer asks for advice on the world of milk and cheese; daily communication ignites a communal spirit and improved well-being; and extra marketing assistance and informative talks, just to name a few, help break through new barriers. On top of the more obvious benefits, there is also a sense of pride and togetherness only a non-mixed group can provide.
Without the prevalence of the history of this profession overshadowing the efforts of these women to impart their passions within Catalonia, RAMADERES.CAT provides the confidence and requisites for anyone looking to break the mold and join the historically isolated and male dominated profession of shepherding as a woman connected by an uplifting collective. //