Australian sheep industry toasts International Women’s Day

Sheep Central, March 8, 2023

AUSTRALIAN sheep, meat and agricultural industry bodies today celebrated International’s Women’s Day with various takes on what the overall IDW theme of embracing equity meant to them.

Some groups adopted slightly different iterations of the central IDW theme, the differences which have been explained in an article by independent publisher Zee Feed.

Leading the charge today to raise awareness of women’s equality in the Australia’s sheep industry were Sheep Sustainability Framework leaders pointing out that the ‘Embrace Equity’ theme is an ethos the framework lives every day.

The SSF board comprises 57 percent women, while its steering group has two women and nine men.

SSF board chair Lucinda Corrigan.

SSF board chair Lucinda Corrigan said the Sheep Sustainability Framework has benefitted from female leadership, “reflecting our participation and collaboration throughout the sheep meat and wool value chains.”

SSF Sustainability Steering Group chair, Dr Scott Williams, said having more women in leadership positions has helped foster a more inclusive culture within the SSF.

“Sustainability affects all of us – so ‘all of us’ need to be involved in conversations about sustainability,” he said.

Sheep Producers Australia and WoolProducers Australia lead the framework, with Australian Wool Innovation and Meat & Livestock Australia providing funding, strategic advice and secretariat support.

WPA CEO Jo Hall, left, and SPA CEO Bonnie Skinner, at the launch of the first Australian Sheep Sustainability Framework report at Bendigo last year.

WPA chief executive officer Jo Hall said the key to equity in any workplace or industry is to ensure that employment arrangements and environment, including culture, afford women equal access to opportunities.

SPA CEO Bonnie Skinner said equity is about creating a culture and pathways that support individuals to succeed – if you can see her you can be her.”

WPA board director Helen Carrigan said the SSF culture is supportive and collaborative; each member brings their unique perspectives and skillset – we aspire to #embraceequity.”

SSF manager Sarah Hyland said globally, women account for 85pc of all consumer purchases.

“Therefore, women should have equitable agency across all parts of every product’s value chain.”

Gundagai Lamb CEO Will Barton said women bring a wealth of knowledge and invaluable experience, translating to meaningful change within our business and for the greater sheep industry.

“We encourage everyone to #embraceequity.”

And from the sheep yards and the paddocks

NSW sheep consultant Sally Martin, left, with daughter Lydia preparing Bundilla Merino ewes for artificial insemination.

In a LinkedIn post, New South Wales livestock genetic and production consultant Sally Martin expressed thanks on International Women’s Day “for the women we work with, live with, & were raised by.”

“It is exciting to see the Ag Industry with more women involved who share their knowledge & skills with others.

“From the all girl team SheepMetriX Happy Int. Women’s Day!” Ms Martin said.

Established in early 2021, the SSF helps industry better understand its opportunities, challenges and impacts in key areas such as environmental health, economic resilience, animal care, and people and community. It presents evidence to stakeholders that Australian sheep meat and wool is produced responsibly, and demonstrates the industry has a clear path towards continuous improvement, where needed.

Click on the following link to see the Sheep Sustainability Framework IWD video | THE SHE in SHEEP SUSTAINABILITY

MLA celebrates IDW with the #DigitALL theme

MLA is celebrating International Women’s Day under the UN Women’s theme for IWD ‘#DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality’ with profiles on four women: MLA program manager – consultation, Georgie Townsend; WA ag tech innovator Belinda Lay; South Australian livestock consultant and producer Elke Hocking and; SA agfluencer Gillian Fennell. The profiles outline their challenges and inspirations and what IDW general equality theme means to them.

AMIC celebrates Meat Business Women

The Australian Meat Industry Council also recognised the important contributions women have made and are making to the meat industry in Australia, with vital roles in processing, marketing, distribution, smallgoods manufacturing and with independent local butchers.

Women have been instrumental in driving innovation, improving efficiency, and promoting sustainability in the industry, AMIC said in its Linkedin post.

AMIC said more women are taking on leadership roles, including positions on boards and senior management positions and said the meat industry recognised the value and potential of diverse talent and is committed to supporting and developing women’s careers.

However, AMIC said there is still work to be done to ensure gender equality in the industry.

To support its goals, AMIC is supporting Meat Business Women in undertaking its Gender Representation Research for 2023 that will track progress against the ground-breaking 2020 report instigated by the United Nations. The research will track how many women are working in the global meat sector and the enablers and barriers to grow the talent pipeline.

If you’d like to be involved by providing employee data or participating in interviews or focus groups, please email us [email protected].

AMIC said it is committed to working together with our members and stakeholders to create a more inclusive and supportive environment for women in the meat industry, recognising that that the industry relies on diversity and that supporting women’s participation and advancement is critical to its success.

AgriFutures wants to #Crackthecode

AgriFutures chair Cathy McGowan

AgriFutures Australia celebrated International Women’s Day by joining with UN Women Australia under their IDW theme #CrackTheCode to gender equality, showcasing women who are embracing disruptive innovation and pioneering work that combats the big issues in agricultural industries.

The UN Women’s theme this year is ‘Cracking the Code: Innovation for a gender equal future’ and AgriFutures chair Cathy McGowan said it is encouraging to know that more women are responsible for driving the change needed in the agriculture sector through courageous leadership, innovation and embracing of new technologies.

“We are also seeing many women entering agriculture as part of their other professions such as engineering, agritech, finance, research and food innovation,” she said.

“To try and accurately quantify the extensive contribution women make to the agriculture sector is very difficult.

“While the latest data from the 2021 Census showed that there were 90,654 women working in agriculture, representing 33pc of the workforce, so much of the behind-the-scenes work not included in these numbers traditionally falls to women, such as managing family, the farm books and other administrative farm tasks,” Ms McGowan said.

“I am really proud of the work we do at AgriFutures Australia in championing women to create impact and innovate to ensure our rural industries prosper now, and into the future.”

Cathy McGowan AO was appointed to chair of AgriFutures Australia in January this year.

IDW mission is close to Australian Women In Agriculture’s heart

In its IDW social media posts, Australian Women In Agriculture said the IDW mission is close to its heart: To elevate women forging change via technology and sustainability in communities, workplaces and beyond.

AWIA said worldwide, women are forging change in their communities through agriculture and are often the custodians of local culture, community and cuisine, working hard to meet the household needs of food, nutrition and income.

“Women are pioneers. They’re central to farming, forging positive change through agroecology on their farms and in their communities.

“Their innovative approaches can transform situations of hardship, exclusion, crisis, or social vulnerability into a positive and uplifting spiral of innovation, solidarity, and personal growth,” AWIA said on LinkedIn.

AWIA said many of women’s farming innovations are based on agroecological principles such as diversifying, using fewer pesticides, scaling up, or building relationships with consumers.

“Women on the land work tenaciously to create safe, healthy and just societies.

“They are important decision-makers and visionaries,” AWIA said.

“The land is their life.”

Also on the AWIA LinkedIn site were posts from Australia’s Chief Veterinary Officer Mark Schipp, his deputy Beth Cookson and Australia’s Women in STEM ambassador Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith. 

Read more on women in agriculture from International Women’s Day




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