Women in Agriculture Taskforce
The First Minister announced the establishment of the Women in Agriculture (WiA) Taskforce at the Royal Highland Show in 2017, to deliver sector transformation.
The remit of the Taskforce is to tackle inequality in Scottish agriculture and ensure the potential of women in farming is fully realised. Its activities are centred around but will not be limited to, the research report recommendations.
The Taskforce is aiming to create increased opportunities for women in the agricultural sector through encouraging a change in mindset coupled with positive and practical support.
The Taskforce is Co-chaired by Mr Fergus Ewing MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity, and Joyce Campbell, hill farmer in Sutherland. Other members, listed below, include industry leaders, academics and representatives from a range of sector based organisations.
Each Taskforce member was appointed on the basis of the skills of the individual. You can find out more about the individual members on the Scottish Government website.
Mr Fergus Ewing
Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity
Chief Executive of RSABI; Director SAOS and AgriScot and Partner in a sheep enterprise in the Borders
Chief Executive of the Scottish Crofting Federation
Professor Wayne Powell
Principal and Chief Executive of Scotland’s Rural College ( SRUC)
Dr Lee-Ann Sutherland
Senior Researcher, The James Hutton Institute
Professor Sally Shortall
Duke of Northumberland Chair of Rural Economy, Newcastle University
Dr Annie McKee
Social Researcher in Land Management, The James Hutton Institute
Andrew McCornick, a beef and sheep farmer from Wigtown, was elected as President of NFU Scotland in 2017
Andrew Marchant ( QMS Monitor Farm) - new entrant, tenant farmer, upland farm, Clonhie Farm, Nithsdale, Dumfriesshire
Sarah Jane Laing
Executive Director Scottish Land & Estates, Lives on family farm in the Borders
Bank of Scotland Area Director, Agriculture, Scotland representing the Bank on agricultural matters across Scotland
Anne Rae MacDonald
Partner of an arable farming business in Easter Ross, Director of Highland Business Services co-operative and a council member of SAOS Ltd
Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs
The Taskforce recognises that much has already changed in agriculture over the last 20 years in relation to the role of women, but there is still much more that can be done.
The cornerstones of the work of Taskforce are:
- ϖ to create greater awareness and recognition of the contribution that women are already making to the industry; and
- ϖ to encourage a culture of enabling all individuals within farming to make the most of their skills and abilities, in a positive and practical way.
The primary focus of the Taskforce is on attaining the long term goal of changing mind-sets. Key to achieving this must include everyone in the industry actively promoting a progressive way of thinking which is aligned with supporting future generations and facing future challenges.
The research report highlighted a number of issues and wide ranging recommendations. To date, the Taskforce has concentrated on the following overarching threads; namely:
1. Increasing Recognition of Women’s Contribution and Benefits of Inclusivity
2. Education & Training – Enhancing Skills on the Ground and for Leadership
3. Leadership Roles – Encourage Inclusivity and Greater Participation
4. Supporting Business & Organisational Diversity
The Taskforce has focused its initial activity on progressing the following key themes:
Women in Leadership
A development programme to provide training, support and confidence for women to secure leadership positions throughout the sector.
The development of a strategic training framework to support the design and provision of future training, enabling equality of access to opportunity in the sector.
A sector engagement programme to help businesses make the best use of their resources, and improve gender equality in farming and agriculture.
Members of the Taskforce act as ambassadors, speaking to groups, publishing in the media, promoting the ambitions of the taskforce and Scottish Government to bring about change.
The Taskforce meets regularly to discuss its work-plan and has also been heavily engaged in raising awareness and understanding of women in agriculture and rural areas with many audiences.
A number of other themes remain to be addressed by the Taskforce, not least:
- Succession planning and inheritance
- Improving farm safety
- Supporting female new entrants
- Addressing gender inequality in crofting tenure
The Taskforce hope that the work being progressed through the identified themes will help to deliver significant change within the sector.