Special event for rural women

October 18, 2016

Rural women, according to the United Nations, comprise more than a quarter of the total world population.

The organisation celebrated its first International Day of Rural Women eight years ago with the most recent day held on Saturday, October 15.

The commemorative day recognises the critical role and contribution of rural women in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty.

More than 10 years ago Sarah Parker was living in inner-city Brisbane and is now running a dairy farm with her husband.

‘‘We started basically because we had an interest in starting a dairy farm, and now look where it’s led,’’ she said.

Mrs Parker and her husband moved to the Goulburn Valley in 2004 when they threw themselves into farming while heavily educating themselves about the field.

She was last month appointed as president of the Australian Women in Agriculture and as part of her new role conducted a training session in Canberra for 20 young women in the field.

Victoria Junior Rural Ambassador Aimee Bolton is studying a Bachelor of Agricultural Business management.

She grew up in Shepparton on a cattle farm and is passionate about educating people about paddock to plate.

Ms Bolton said she had always had strong female role models in her field who she’d gained experience from, and hoped she could do the same for other young women.

‘‘You’ve got to stick with it,’’ she said, and added she had not received many school-based agricultural opportunities but pursued her interest through other realms before heading to university.

Sarah Thompson did not exactly plan on getting into the agricultural industry.

The young Shepparton woman said she thought she’d have a go when she applied for a three-month position at Murray Dairy.

‘‘I don’t have an agricultural or a dairy background,’’ she said.

But fortuitously, Ms Thompson continued on with the company and integrated into a role where she attracts and retains people to the dairy industry.

‘‘Initially there were so many opportunities, being a young female,’’ she said.

‘‘The longer I stayed the more I noticed males dominated the senior roles.

‘‘I can see difficulties in progressing into these senior roles.’’

She said women had often played integral roles in the industry but had not necessarily been recognised for these roles.

‘‘Women bring a different aspect to farming,’’ she said.

‘‘They have a willingness to share and a holistic approach.”

—Tara Whitsed

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