The chief of Scotland’s crofting union has spoken out in favour of women-only agricultural training.
Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) chief executive Patrick Krause said there was a clear need and demand for women-only training courses in skills for farming and crofting.
“The groundbreaking research commissioned by the Scottish Government, Women in Farming and the Agriculture Sector, presents unequivocal evidence that this is so,” said Mr Krause.
“I know that it is a debatable issue. I have heard a first reaction that this is divisive or people question ‘why the focus on women; why have women-only events?’ Sadly, there are objections to the focus we are bringing on women in agriculture coming from successful women in agriculture; a bit of ‘pulling up the ladder’.”
Mr Krause said a recent SCF-organised fencing course for women was oversubscribed by a long-shot.
“Women are asking for women-only training events; typical feedback we got was from a crofter from Torridon who enrolled for the course ‘because I wouldn’t be one woman edged to the side as a hobbyist. This strongly appeals to me as it is specifically for women’,” added Mr Krause.
“The Farm Advisory Service is also answering demand in piloting a series of women-only events, and there are community-based initiatives doing the same.”
Professor Sally Shortall, the lead author of the Scottish Government’s research into women in agriculture, said women were not taking up training opportunities for various reasons including feeling that they are out of place, that they will be in the minority and that courses are not planned to be gender-appropriate.
She said: “Of course there are differing views on how to make agricultural training more inclusive of women. Something that is widely asked for is women-only training courses so we recommend that training providers consider this. It is very encouraging that the Farm Advisory Service and Scottish Crofting Federation are making this provision in their training programmes.”