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Equality report says change and charter needed in Scottish agriculture

Joyce Campbell
Joyce Campbell

An equality charter should be created for Scottish agriculture and mainstreamed into all government policies, claims the Women in Agriculture Taskforce.

The recommendation is included in the final report of the taskforce, which was established in 2017 by the Scottish Government to provide recommendations on how to ensure women are better represented in Scottish farming.

The report says women’s contribution to the farming industry can be undervalued, downplayed, or unseen, and “fundamental and cultural change” is needed to bring about gender equality in the sector.

“It is neither acceptable nor business savvy for the agricultural industry to be so male dominated,” said Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing.

“Male-only structures and boards must be consigned to the past, as Scottish agriculture simply cannot afford to leave women behind.”

He said that cultural change would take time but Scottish agriculture must work to include and involve the talents of women more fully and equitably.Sutherland farmer Joyce Campbell, who chaired the taskforce with Mr Ewing, said the report shone a light into the darker corners of Scottish agriculture.

She said: “Scottish agriculture cannot afford to be seen as the last bastion of sexism and outdated attitudes.

“We want an integrated, inclusive industry where everyone is welcome and valued and these recommendations will help to achieve that.”

Other recommendations include: creating an environment that empowers women to take up leadership posts; ensuring women have equal access to skills development opportunities; and challenging existing cultural norms that view men as the heirs to agricultural businesses.

Scottish Land & Estates executive director and taskforce member, Sarah-Jane Laing, said: “Changes won’t happen overnight but if the sector is open to change, then I am confident that if my daughters and nieces want to work in agriculture, they won’t have to deal with the same negative experiences that many women currently experience.”

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