Marking International Women’s Day 2017, IFA President Joe Healy has called for more supports and incentives to encourage women to take a central role in farming.
The IFA President said, “Encouraging more women to become actively involved in farming will improve the viability of both family farms and rural communities. There are a number of practical, social and cultural barriers to women’s participation in agriculture that must be addressed.
“The role played by women is vital to agricultural productivity but is traditionally understated due to the predominance of male farm owners and the preference to transfer farmland to a son or other male relative. An increase in women’s participation in farming will require, among other things, a significant increase in ownership and control of the farm asset, whether individually or in joint ownership with a spouse.”
In a recent submission towards the development of a new National Women’s Strategy 2017 – 2020, IFA called for a number of actions to support women in agriculture and to promote farming as a career option to women.
- To encourage the transfer of a family farm into joint ownership at the time of inter-generational transfer, IFA believes that 90% Agricultural Relief should apply where the farm is transferred into joint names, and where the 80% asset test and the active farming requirement is satisfied by either of the spouses.
- Support should be provided through the taxation system for the employment of farm labour to encourage more women to actively take over the running of the farm enterprise.
- IFA is advocating for affirmative action and training programmes to encourage women farmers by providing training and mentoring to remove practical barriers to participation in farming by women.
- Low-cost childcare programmes and adequate social protection for women who work in agriculture are essential factors to contribute to the modern, sustainable development of rural areas.
- IFA has called for the early introduction of total contribution system for the purposes of calculating State Pension (Contributory). This is more equitable than the current average system, which disadvantages anyone who has stepped in and out of the system over their working life.
- Women provide around two-thirds of all care hours, increasing to over 70% from the age of 50. The peak age for caring amongst women is 45 to 49 with over 11% of women in this age group providing unpaid care. A new statutory homecare scheme is needed to enable older people to stay within their homes and to adequately support carers.