Media Release

​International Day honours rural women​

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce
Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources,​ Senator Anne Ruston


15 October 2015

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, and Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Senator Anne Ruston, have highlighted the vital contribution women make in rural com​munities, both at home and abroad, this International Day of Rural Women.

“Women have long been the backbone of rural communities and played a vital role in farming but only in recent times have they started to receive the recognition they deserve,” Minister Joyce said.

“Australia’s women make up about 28 per cent of the on-farm workforce and 29 per cent of managers.

“Women not only play a big part in running farm businesses but are at the forefront of innovation and research in the sector and leaders in the community.

“For example, 2015 Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) Rural Women’s Award winner, Sarah Powell, has excelled in community cohesion and social work through the establishment of the Champions Academy program for her Eyre Peninsula community. 

“Professor Annabelle Duncan is Vice-Chancellor of the University of New England and formerly a molecular scientist over 16 years with the CSIRO. 

“Prominent businesswomen with links to the land, such as Janet Holmes à Court and Gina Rinehart, make a substantial contribution to the business of agriculture.

“And iconic women in on the land, of course, run the daily business of agriculture, including Eliza Brown, CEO of Peter R. Brown Family Vineyards and first female Director and Board Member of the famous Brown Brothers Wines.”

Minister Ruston said women are recognised each year in the RIRDC Rural Women’s Awards, which provide a platform for exceptional rural women to use their profile, skills and influence to shape the future of rural issues.

“Applications for the 2016 RIRDC Rural Women’s Awards are still open and I encourage you to nominate someone you know and turn their visions in to reality,” Minister Ruston said. 

“The government’s Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper is also delivering practical support for women—and men—on the land.

“So far we’ve already delivered drought concessional loans, pest control programmes and community mental health and family support as well as providing fairer tax arrangements and greater access to premium markets.

“Rural women make up over a quarter of the total world population and the majority depend on agriculture and natural resources for their families’ livelihoods. Women comprise 43 per cent of the world’s agricultural labour force, which rises to 70 per cent in some countries.

“Australia values its participation in international programmes and partnerships that support rural women in developing countries.

“In Timor Leste, we’re working with local women to manage the deadly Newcastle disease in chickens, through vaccination and education, measures that are improving the nutrition and prosperity of communities.

“As women traditionally raise the chickens, the programme aims to increase their income and improve their status and standing in the community.”

The United Nations established International Day of Rural Women in 2008 to recognise the critical role and contribution of rural women, including indigenous women, in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty.

For more information on the RIRDC Rural Women’s Award, visit www.rirdc.gov.au/rural-women's-award.