Female farm leaders graduate to mark International Rural Women’s Day

In Canberra this week, in celebration of International Rural Women’s Day, 10 leading ladies of agriculture graduated from a five-month mentoring program.

The 2019 cohort of the National Farmers’ Federation-led Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program was selected from about 140 applicants and got together for the first time in Canberra during May.

Since then the women, have worked with their mentors, to identify their leadership goals and hone how they can contribute to agriculture’s strategic future.

The program is the initiative of the NFF’s first female President, Fiona Simson, who is committed to increasing the number of women’s in the sector’s leadership ranks.

NFF President Fiona Simson speaking at the 2019 Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program graduation.

“Currently,
women comprise 41% of the agricultural workforce but make up only 18% of
management roles and 2.3% of CEO positions,” Fiona said.

“This
is out of step with other comparable industries and is a statistic that the NFF
and our committed program Partners are determined to rectify.”

At the morning tea event at Parliament House, ABC reporter Brett Worthington, lead the group in a discussion on the challenges and the opportunities for women in leadership in agriculture.

2019 Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program
Graduate Robbie Davis has her say on the benefits of mentoring as a part of a panel discussion at the Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program, flanked by fellow graduates Jacqui Cannon, Rachel Carson and Cath Oates.

The group raised access to child care; paid work versus unpaid work and the need for cultural change as some of the barriers for women in the sector.

Graduate,
Alison Southwell, a University lecturer, said it was vital to lead by example.

“I’ve
chosen to bring my small daughter to lectures with me when she has been unwell,
because I think it’s important to demonstrate to everyone in the class, that
life can be messy.

In its second year, the Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program is supported by 21 organisations from across business and Government who have each pledged to making ‘meaningful change’ within their organisations.

The
NFF has a goal to double the number of women in agriculture’s leadership positions
by 2030, as part of it’s vision for the sector to valued at $100 billion by
that time.

“Women must be equally represented at the level where decisions are taken that shape the future of our industry and rural and regional Australia more broadly,” Ms Simson added.

2019 Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program graduates with NFF President Fiona Simson from left Jacqui Cannon, Leonie O’Driscoll, Kelly Pearce, Robbie Davis, Linda Lee, Rachel Carson, Allison Harker, Natalie Sommerville and Alison Southwell and Cath Oates.
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