It is time to take the role of women farmers out of the shadows and put them firmly in the spotlight, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has said ahead of the National Dialogue on Women in Agriculture which takes place this Wednesday.
The dialogue is being led by former Tánaiste and Minister for Agriculture Mary Coughlan, and features panel discussions and workshops, as well as speakers including the former German Minister for Agriculture, Julia Klöckner, Glanbia plc CEO, Siobhán Talbot.
The objective of the dialogue is to gather views to feed into future national policy on the issue of greater gender equality in agriculture.
Minister McConalogue is to tell the event that of the nearly 280,000 people working on farms in Ireland, some 27% (75,113) are female.
“However, of the over 130,000 farm holders, just 13% (16,900) are female. Fewer than half of farm holders have a succession plan in place and 83% of identified successors are male.
“We have included several measures in the Ireland’s new CAP Strategic Plan which will support greater gender equality.
“However, to meet our Food Vision 2030 goals of greater environmental, economic and social sustainability, greater women’s participation is crucial. We cannot meet the challenges and grasp the opportunities ahead if we continue to have an under-representation of women, both within farming and across the sector.
“It’s time to take the role of women farmers out of the shadows and put them firmly in the spotlight. I believe this National Women’s Dialogue will do that,” he said.
Minister of State Pippa Hackett said that she is passionate about finding collaborative solutions to advancing the gender equality agenda within the agriculture sector in Ireland.
“Today, we have taken an important step in coming together and discussing the issues. We must now continue to make progress so that agri-food can benefit from greater female participation in the future and we can continue to advance our journey towards greater sustainability, including considering options for farm diversification such as organics and forestry”.
Minister of State Martin Heydon said added that it is “fitting that we are gathered on St Brigid’s Day to discuss the participation and visibility of women in agriculture”.
He said improving the social sustainability of agriculture is a priority under Food Vision 2030 and gender equality forms an important part of that.
The outcome of the discussions at the event will be compiled into a report that will inform policy in this regard in the coming years.
This will be strengthened by a specific research project on women’s participation in agriculture, and ongoing engagement with stakeholders, the Department said.