Agricultural Recruitment Specialists Industry Insights: Celebrating Women in Agriculture
International Women’s Day was celebrated globally just a few weeks ago, on March 8th. To complement the theme, we wanted to write a post that celebrates women working in the agricultural sector.
Although Agriculture has traditionally been considered a male-dominated sector, nearly 20% of all farmers are now female. In UK higher education, there are now more women studying towards agricultural qualifications. In fact, the latest figures from the ONS indicate that over 65% of graduates are women (source).
Gender Equality in Global Agriculture – Still a Work in Progress
The Sustainable Development Goal 2 was created to help put an end to hunger, improve nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture – and it was created with a target date of 2030 in mind. According to recent statistics released by the International Food Policy Research Institute (source), countries with higher levels of gender inequality also have lower levels of land productivity, higher food insecurity, and less access to credit.
Addressing these inequalities is a constant struggle, but one which is imperative in order to achieve better sustainability in the global agricultural sector. In developing countries, females account for at least half of the workforce, and gender inequality undermines progress being made towards the SDG2 goal in multi-dimensional ways.
Some of the obstacles and challenges faced by Women in Agriculture include:
- Access to land ownership
- Extension Services
There are various initiatives, groups, and schemes that are combining forces to help women in agriculture overcome these challenges. While some are simply vehicles for additional training and funding, there are others that require a lot more work. This includes the strengthening of land tenure rights in some regions to ensure a woman is permitted to own their own land and truly be in charge of her destiny.
Time to Celebrate Women in Global Agriculture
Shana Beattie – Associate President of the Nebraska Pork Producers Association (source)
Despite the huge mass of challenges faced throughout the COVID pandemic, Shana and her farming family have continued to care for their livestock and produce high-quality pork for the Beattie family Farm. This is a fifth-generation, highly diversified operating also consisting of alfalfa, corn, and soybeans. They operate a wean-to-finish swine operation and a commercial calf cow operation.
In addition to taking care of her family of four, in her role as Associate President, she is helping the Nebraska Farming community with mock on-farm exercises in preparation for any potential foreign animal disease outbreaks, holding industry-wide round tables, and planning for any potential disasters concerning ASF.
Magdalena Węgiel – Winner of the Women’s Farmer Award 2018 (source)
Polish Farmer Magdalena has been a powerful voice in the female farming community following her own struggles with gender bias in the industry. Along with her daughter, she bought and established a successful trout farm in one of Southern Poland’s National Parks.
She rescued the trout ponds after they faced a threat of abandonment four years prior and was presented with the prestigious Innovation in farming award due to her efforts in bringing trout farming back to her region. Aside from helping other women in the area achieve their own career goals, she focussed on ethical farming practicing, educating the wider society, and more.
Chris Chinn - Director of Agriculture
Having held this significant role for over five years now, Chris is a fifth-generation farmer and a highly successful female working in the agri-sector. Her family successfully raise hogs, cattle, hay, and crops, and she was catapulted into the spotlight following her sharing a homemade video of the hog farming operation back in 2008. She has served in a number of leadership roles in the sector, including the American Farm Bureau and the Missouri Farm Bureau, and in just her second year on the national committee, was elected to the post of chairperson.
Sarah Mukherjee, Co-chair of the Oxford Farming Conference
For the first time in the 76-year history of the Oxford Farming Conference, Sarah Mukherjee forms part of an all-female team that will lead both industry and charitable work, including the delivery of the OFCs 2022 conference. Based in Hertfordshire, Sarah is the CEO of IEMA and now holds joint responsibility as co-chair of one of the world’s most prestigious farming conferences. She has held numerous positions, including a recent role as Director of Environment and Water UK and CEO of the Crop Protection Association. She joined the Oxford Farming Conference as Director last year. Harnessing her background in PR and LAW, she played a vital role in their first-ever digital conference and has helped make the conference more accessible while bringing key international names in the agri-sector onboard.
Kathryn Taylor, Ruth Parkes, and Chloe Dunne – Founders of the #AgriWomen24 hashtag
These three ladies are perhaps the lesser-known names on this list, but due to what they’re trying to achieve and the traction they are getting in highlighting the work of women in the farming sector, they’re absolutely deserving of a mention in this post. The trio met on social media but has joined forces to help promote women in British agriculture. From livestock farmers, arable land agents, consultants, directors, fruit growers, and more. Some of their contributions have been sent in from females in farming in locations as far as Australia and New Zealand.#Agriwomen24 is all about championing women in the sector and creating new connections. It is designed to inform people of the vital work already being done with women in farming while helping women working in agriculture connect with one another. and to promote the amazing work being done.
Kathryn Taylor is a dairy worker based in North Wales. Chloe Dunne has worked on farms since a young age; she studied agriculture at Nottingham University and spent a year working for the NFU on placement before joining an agri-PR firm. Ruth Parkes works with her father on their family farm, running a sizeable beef herd that comprises pedigree shorthorn and limousins.
There is so much to be celebrated, and with a growing awareness of women’s roles in the agricultural sector and campaigns such as #Agriwomen24 highlighting the importance of women in both a leadership and grassroots level, there is absolutely a greater focus and heightened visibility of women in this industry.
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