Foreword by Fergus Ewing, Co-Chair of the Women in Agriculture Taskforce
It was my absolute privilege to Co-Chair the Taskforce but the real work was undertaken by its members. I want to thank each of them for their huge commitment to this work. In particular, I want to pay tribute to the drive, energy and enthusiasm of Co-Chair, Joyce Campbell, who was a key part of the Taskforce’s success.
Our work has been challenging at times – not least to ourselves! Some of the practical solutions brought forward in this report will seem obvious, others less so. There will be some quick wins that, if progressed, will make a real difference, but other changes will take much longer to embed within the industry. All of the recommendations have a practical focus to enable women to develop their skills, unlock their potential and achieve their rightful place in Scottish agriculture.
We know from the 2017 research report that women from agricultural communities want to be supported in the right way to grow their confidence in their own abilities. They want to be able to access the training and support they need on key skills and for that to be delivered in ways that work for them. We are committed to doing everything possible to empower women, but we must also address the invisible, cultural and practical barriers faced by many women in the industry.
It is neither acceptable, nor, business savvy, for agencies, organisations and businesses operating in Scottish agriculture today to be effectively male-only. If we can help them to be better and more equitable then we should do so. But these agencies, organisations and businesses also need to hear clearly that men-only boards and governance structures must be consigned to the past. Scottish griculture simply cannot afford to leave women behind.
As Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy I know how critical women are to the success of business of all sizes across Scotland. I am hopeful that, once women are appropriately represented in leadership positions and feel supported to play the role they want in this key industry, that will help deliver the productive, inclusive, and sustainable industry Scotland needs.
Co-Chair of the Women in Agriculture Taskforce