Farming cannot meet the challenges of the future if it continues to have an under-representation of women in the sector, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue will tell National Dialogue on Women in Agriculture today.
The dialogue is being led by former Tánaiste and Minister for Agriculture Mary Coughlan with objective of gathering views to feed into future national policy on the issue of greater gender equality in agriculture.
Addressing the dialogue, Minister McConalogue will highlight that of the nearly 280,000 people working on farms in Ireland, some 27pc (75,113) are female.
"However, of the over 130,000 farm holders, just 13pc (16,900) are female. Fewer than half of farm holders have a succession plan in place and 83% of identified successors are male.
“We have included several measures in the Ireland’s new CAP Strategic Plan which will support greater gender equality. However, to meet our Food Vision 2030 goals of greater environmental, economic and social sustainability, greater women’s participation is crucial.
"We cannot meet the challenges and grasp the opportunities ahead if we continue to have an under-representation of women, both within farming and across the sector.
“It’s time to take the role of women farmers out of the shadows and put them firmly in the spotlight. I believe this National Women’s Dialogue will do that”
Specifically relating to the State Bodies under his responsibility, McConalogue has warned that more women need to be appointed to their board. He said he refuse board nominations from bodies that are not hitting gender representation targets.
“In the case of the 12 State Bodies for which I have responsibility, there is an under representation of women on these Boards and I am reiterating the request of my predecessors in recent years in asking the Chief Executives of agri-business companies to support women within their companies expressing an interest in being appointed to the boards of State Bodies and to encourage those who may not as yet have considered putting themselves forward.
“Some bodies have made great progress, other are lagging behind and we can’t have a position where we are not reaching these important targets. Therefore, over the course of the Government, all state bodies can to leave no stone unturned in reaching these targets. I will be left with no other option but to refuse nominations put forward if they don’t help reach our gender targets.”
Government policy has a target of at least 40% for representation of each gender on State Boards.
The dialogue will feature panel discussions and workshops, as well as speakers including the former German Minister for Agriculture, Julia Klöckner, Glanbia plc CEO, Siobhán Talbot.
Also set to address the event Minister of State Pippa Hackett will say the sector must continue to make progress so that agri-food can benefit from greater female participation in the future.
"We can continue to advance our journey towards greater sustainability, including considering options for farm diversification such as organics and forestry”.
The outcome of today’s discussions will be compiled into a report that will inform policy in this regard in the coming years. This will be strengthened by a specific research project on women’s participation in agriculture, and ongoing engagement with stakeholders.