The crofting sector is more gender balanced than the rest of agriculture. Proportionally, more women are the principal crofter than are the principal farmer. However, tenanted crofts can only be in the name of one tenant and typically, for a married couple, the man is the named tenant. Concern was raised in the 2017 research about women’s access to the croft house in cases of divorce.
- The Crofting Commission must address the perception and potential practice that crofting legislation disadvantages women, particularly in cases of divorce.
- The Scottish Government, with input from the Scottish Crofting Federation, should work with the Crofting Commission to raise awareness about the rights and entitlements of women on crofts. This should include the preparation of fact sheets, several workshops, and information on relevant websites.
Key Taskforce discussion and supporting research
Fourteen percent of crofts are run by women, and 66% are run by a woman and her spouse. In the 2017 research, women on crofts raised concerns about the rights of women on tenanted crofts. They reported that only one person can be named as the tenant, and in the case of heterosexual couples, it tends to be the man. There were concerns that in the instance of divorce, women would lose access to the family home because it is part of the croft:
"Of course that’s the problem with crofting is that under the Crofting Act you can only have a single human being, being a tenant…the majority of crofts are still tenanted and so if most crofts are tenanted and most of the tenants are men then in the case of something like divorce the wife has no rights whatsoever to anything because the whole croft including the house on which it is built is...still part of the croft…we don’t have any title deeds to our houses for instance." #Older woman crofter
We considered whether there was need for an immediate change to the crofting legislation. Given the potential for a bill covering crofting interests in the future, we decided that this would be the best mechanism to use if legislative change is needed to provide greater equality within the crofting areas.