Women still under-represented in farming

By Charlene Tebbutt
March 9, 2018 - 12:00pm Updated: March 9, 2018 - 4:45pm

The numbers are growing, but women are still under-represented in farming.

Thursday was International Women's Day, and the National Farmers Union (NFU) used the occasion to highlight the work of female farmers and their increasing role as industry leaders. Coral Sproule, NFU President, said it's important to encourage more women to try their hands on Canadian farms.

“I think we would always like to have more women farming," Sproule told paNOW. "We would always like to have more equity and equality."

A recent Statistics Canada study showed women made up 28.7 per cent of Canadian farmers in 2016. In 2011, that number was 27.4 per cent. Despite the growth, Sproule said some women still face barriers in the sector.

“We definitely recognize that there are women farming who aren’t necessarily being shown as the face of farming," Sproule said. “I think sometimes they feel that they’re not taken seriously."

The NFU is working on a number of initiatives to bolster diversity and inclusion within the organization, and support more farmers who are new Canadians, gender diverse and Indigenous. Sproule said more can always be done to promote farming as a viable career choice. The NFU president, who farms in Ontario, said she did not grow up farming herself but got into the industry in her twenties as a way to follow her interest in sustainable and healthy foods. She said encouraging farming among young would help the industry continue to grow.

"I think we all know that we need more farmers on the land," she said.

March is also Rural Women's Month in Saskatchewan, and the Saskatchewan government said rural women in farming are part of a growing trend across the country.

“Increasingly, women in agriculture are shaping and driving the important conversations we are having in our rural communities,” Minister Responsible for the Status of Women Tina Beaudry-Mellor said in a statement.

 

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