In Queensland, more than half of all women working in agriculture are employed as farmers or farm managers, and they contribute 33 per cent of all on-farm income. Women also play a major role in contributing to day-to-day living and farm survival through their off-farm earnings, which is estimated to contribute $2,715 million or 84 per cent of all off-farm income. In celebrating Queensland Women’s Week and International Women’s Day, we recognise the important roles of women across the state’s agriculture sector including the unpaid domestic work, volunteering within their communities, and the civic and governance activities that they undertake.
The Queensland Farmers’ Federation (QFF) is actively identifying initiatives that will encourage more women to take up leadership roles in our sector. In a recent report, QFF identified businesswomen actively carrying out leadership activities both in agriculture and within their communities, including mentoring, being a spokesperson or advocate within industry and the community, and participating on committees or boards. Women are also active in diversifying, innovating and value adding to existing businesses, developing new commercial opportunities within farms or initiating new business ventures.
While many women are active, both economically and in leadership roles, the research identified limited support structures generally. Many women want to expand their roles and undertake opportunities that will help them realise their leadership potential and importantly be recognised for the role they play as farm businesswomen, innovators and entrepreneurs. Therefore, training and development plans need to consider the complexities and priorities of women who manage the mix of farm, family, location and community, and recognise that women are important economic and social contributors to the wider agricultural industry. Diversity comes in many forms, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, age, culture through to socioeconomic background. These factors contribute to an individual’s unique experience of the world, as well as their values and perspectives. Numerous studies have demonstrated a correlation between diversity in leadership and better economic performance, therefore more women with merit and experience in leadership positions can only strengthen our sector and Queensland into the future.