Maura Canning, IFA Farm Family & Social Affairs Chairwoman said that on International Women’s Day she wanted to acknowledge the important contribution of women in agriculture and called for support for women who want to have a more central role in the management of farm businesses.
“Women are the back-bone of rural areas, playing a particular innovative role in agri-tourism and on-farm diversification, on top of the farm’s production role”, said Mrs. Canning, “The role of women in agriculture has been traditionally understated due to the predominance of male farm owners, but women account for approximately a quarter of the regular agricultural workforce”.
Mrs. Canning said there are a number of social and cultural barriers to women’s participation in agriculture that need to be addressed in order to effect change. She said, aagriculture is a male dominated profession and it can often be challenging for a woman to get involved.
“It is imperative for the future of rural areas that women are empowered and supported to achieve their full potential and make an even greater contribution. Rural women are an underutilised resource and we need to introduce programmes that encourage women farmers by providing training, advocacy and mentoring that can remove practical barriers.
“Innovation will become all the more crucial for rural areas in the years to come. We must build an enabling environment for successful women entrepreneurship. Women farmers need to be given a voice and a presence so that our vision and concerns for agriculture and rural communities are heard and responded to, and are given equal weight in policy development,” Maura Canning concluded.