Celebrating women in agriculture
3 May 2018
Go back in time over 100 years ago and you will find the first International Women’s Day of its kind was celebrated – a day to promote women’s rights to vote, work, access training and end discrimination.
It was this event that gave Jenni Green & Pam Wills of Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABBI) the inspiration for a series of fundraiser events along this very theme. Both ladies had experience in agriculture themselves as well as knowing many inspiring ladies in the sector and they decided it was high time that women in agriculture stepped up and shouted about their amazing achievements. Not just to benefit others in the sector but perhaps, more importantly, show case this exciting sector to the next generation.
Women help support the backbone of British Agriculture
Fast-forward three years to early spring 2018 when the pair took their work celebrating women in agriculture to the next level – the internet – launching a social media campaign to celebrate Women in Agriculture on International Women’s Day. From Julie Edwards at Mole Valley Farmers in Devon, to farmer Tanya Robbins in Gloucestershire, they showcased some great women in agriculture from here in the South West, even getting former committee member and NFU president Minette Batters involved. The campaign, though small, had an impact receiving 27,000 Twitter impressions, promoting agriculture and the fantastic women who are part of it.
In an interview with RABI, Minette pointed out that women are the backbone of many farm businesses; “Very often women in agriculture work hard behind the scenes on the farm, keeping the home fires burning. But many of them are multi skilled, some of them running the farm alongside their own businesses.” Minette Batters is a great example, running a successful farm business and events venue, she is also a qualified Cordon Bleu chef and now the President of the NFU.
Recognising the diverse skillset held by women in agriculture and the amazing range of jobs out there in the sector, Jenni & Pam believe we should be bringing people together to form a network that not only benefits its members but also helps to fly the flag for British agriculture to the next generation. Engaging the next generation Agriculture, like any other industry, has a diverse range of career opportunities that come with it, not just being a farmer. Areas from animal nutrition and crop management, to tractor design, plant technology or marketing and PR, it really does have every career option covered and, unlike many other industries, agriculture is also a growing sector. In 2050 the UN predict the world population will be 9.8 billion – that’s over 2 billion more mouths to feed from the same land in just 32 years and agriculture is at the heart of this.
In order to meet these new challenges, we need to attract new minds to the sector and show them what an exciting industry agriculture is to work in. The problem the industry currently faces is the fact that agriculture isn’t an industry that’s seen as “sexy”. But this is what the duo hopes to set out and change by establishing a new South West Women in Ag network.
Showcasing women in Ag
Jenni and Pam soon came to realise that, while the events they had run were well received, their message could only reach a small audience. With this year’s theme for International Women’s Day being #PressforProgress, they decided it was time to bring people together across the South West by showcasing the great sector they are part of and the inspirational women they work with. They wanted to see the establishment of a network of women across the South West getting together and sharing experiences, developing their skills, and celebrating great achievements.
So, they came to Old Mill as having heard about the success of similar networking groups elsewhere in the country and they decided that it was time to pull together and establish a Women in Agriculture network here in the South West.
The group will be launched at this year’s Royal Bath and West Show and hopes to:
• Create a network for ideas sharing and development
• Showcase the best of the industry and what it has to offer
• Publicise opportunities for women in the industry
• Have fun along the way!
So, if you would like to help us fly the flag for a fantastic sector, whilst also bringing like-minded people together in one place to share their ideas, experiences and develop their careers, we would love you to join us for our launch party at this year’s Royal Bath and West Show.
We hope you can join us for the launch of South West Women in Ag network (SWWAG) at the #WomenDriveTractorsToo reception on Wednesday 30 May, 2018 in the Old Mill marquee and help us put South West farming well and truly on the map.