Focus on women in rural communites

By Staff Writer

More work is needed to support women in leadership roles in regional communities, according to a report released by the Federal Government yesterday. 

The report found that while women contribute close to half the total output of farming communities, there had been little change in their representation in leadership positions in agriculture.

According to the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) report, two of the keys to unlocking greater participation by women in formal leadership positions are through better monitoring and reporting on women’s representation and by holding current leaders accountable for enhancing women’s progress.

Releasing the report, the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Tony Burke said that the Government had doubled female representation on its research and development corporation boards from 19 per cent to around 40 per cent in the last 18 months, by changing the criteria to remove the prerequisite of previous board experience.

But that was not enough.

"Given the strong involvement in women in agriculture in Australia, it can’t be based on merit if you’re getting boards at around 20 per cent women and some boards that have never had a woman on them," Burke said.

Revisiting Missed Opportunities – Growing Women’s Contribution to Agriculture was written by Professors Alison Sheridan and Fiona Haslam McKenzie and jointly funded by RIRDC and the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government.

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