A new video has been released in time with International Women’s Day (March 8th) to celebrate and promote the roles women play in agriculture, as well as highlighting the work still to be done.
The video, which aims to ‘put a spotlight on the hidden face of agriculture’, shows the diverse tasks women undertake in farming enterprises in Australia, and highlights the enormous – but often overlooked – contribution women make to the industry.
The video also includes a number of facts and statistics about the link between women and farming, beginning with the confronting statement that women were not legally allowed to call themselves farmers until 1994.
While there’s no doubt that significant headway has been made, the video is a timely reminder of how far the industry has to go to recognise gender diversity. Today, women are responsible for producing 49% of farm income, but account for just 13% of rural leadership positions.
In fact, men hold 91% of agricultural commodity council positions, 87% of rural representative bodies, and 93% of publicly listed agricultural companies – a far cry from the 50% target. Today, women hold 45.8% of positions on government boards, and almost 30% of directorship of ASX 200 boards (just shy of the 30% target), meaning agriculture is lagging behind other industries by a country mile.
The Visible Farmer video echoes the work undertaken through The Invisible Farmer Project – the largest ever study of Australian women on the land. This wide-ranging project aims to document the oral histories of agricultural women to correct the ‘historical invisibility’ of farming women.
One of the aims of the project is to help women feel empowered to refer to themselves as farmers, something that women have struggled with for generations.
Sallie Jones, a dairy farmer from Victoria, recalls how her own mother only ever referred to herself as a farmer’s wife or a ‘helper’.
“Mum just sort of shrugged her shoulders and let Dad take all the glory,” she said.
“I remember that as a child and thinking ‘Why don’t you be proud of what you’ve done and why don’t you have your own voice?’”
“But it was probably a combination of imposter syndrome and a lack of confidence.”