Women working in Scotland’s rural industries say they want more recognition for what they do
Hundreds of women rallied round at the Women in Agriculture Conference earlier this week in an appeal for Scotland to better acknowledge their contribution to the agricultural and rural or land-based industries.
More than 250 delegates turned out for the event – the third of its kind – organised by representatives from Royal Highland Agricultural Society of Scotland, SAOS, RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland), Scottish Association of Young Farmers ‘Clubs, NFU Scotland and Scottish Woodlands and hosted at the RBS Conference Centre at Gogarburn in Edinburgh.
According to organisers, demand for the event, which focused on development opportunities, available support and strength in collaboration, and the diverse range of those in attendance highlighted a desire for sharing knowledge, generating new contacts and working together to raise the profile of women who work in the agricultural and rural or land-based industries. This included farmers and crofters, accountants, land agents, secretaries, administrators, retailers, agri-tourism owners, researchers, consultants and producers to name just a few.
Opening the event, Professor Sally Shortall, Duke of Northumberland Chair for Rural Economy at Newcastle University brought attention to the social changes in farming practice and the links between evidence and policy in relation to women working in the sector.
Priscilla Gordon-Duff who manages the family business at Drummuir Estate talked about succession planning and the challenges faced by global issues.
First-time crofter Maddy Norval is less than half the age of the average crofter/farmer today but highlighted a promising future for any young women wishing to join the sector. Her enthusiasm for Scotland’s heritage, desire to make the most her resources and the ability to combine working on the land with an online art business has enabled her to live her dream.
Recent Scotland Bafta winners and stars of This Farming Life, Melissa Irvine and Sybil MacPherson talked about their experience in the limelight and how public perception of women in agriculture is far distant from the reality.