48% of real farm income in Australia is produced by women, yet their work often goes unrecognised. However, this may be changing, as a recent article in The Guardian highlights the up-and-coming female farmers who are emerging as thought-leaders and innovators in sustainable agribusiness.
When looking for examples of empowered female farmers, you need look no further than Anika Molesworth. She completed her undergraduate degree in agribusiness by correspondence after watching a ten year drought ravage her family’s farm in western NSW. She is now studying for a PhD in agriculture climate science and is experimenting with new technology on the farm.
“The younger generation are so much more aware of what is happening around the world. We do go travelling. We are studying with colleagues from all over the world and we are bringing those ideas to the farming landscape.”
Many women (50% of women on farms) support farming families through their work off-farm. As well as increasing farm income, this is one way that Molesworth hopes to have a greater impact on farming practices, by combining her farm work with being a consultant and educator in sustainable farming.
There are also those seeking to change how female farmers are viewed and understood at a societal level; Invisible Farmer, a new project funded by the Australian Research Council, aims to remedy the gender inequality which has been endemic in farming for centuries, and continues to be so, partly due to the fact that sons traditionally inherit the farm. The project aims to ‘create new histories of rural Australia [and] reveal the hidden stories of women on the land’. Katrina Sasse, a 29-year-old farmer from Morawa in Western Australia brings the encouraging news that around 10% of daughters are going back to work on family farms, and the number is growing.
“There are a lot of stories where women feel discontented because they feel ignored or they have been pushed away and they don’t have any influence in the decision-making on the future of the family farm.”
Sasse’s research looks at ways to get daughters more involved in family farms by examining what their strengths are, what they can bring to the business and how they can be included in the succession plan.
Read More ~ Women: the silent partners of agriculture by M. Alston of Charles Sturt University