Women in Agriculture Development Programme: equality impact assessment

Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA) for the Women in Agriculture Development Programme (WiADP).

Equality Impact Assessment Record

Title of policy/ practice/ strategy/ legislation etc.

Women in Agriculture Development Programme (WiADP)


Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Tourism

Lead official

Fiona Leslie / Sara Thorpe

Officials involved in the EQIA


Sara Thorpe
Fiona Leslie
Helen Mooney
Bruce Sutherland
Emily Adams


Agricultural Holdings
Equalities Unit

Directorate: Division: Team

Agriculture and Rural Economy, Agricultural Policy: Agricultural Holdings and Women in Agriculture

Is this new policy or revision to an existing policy?



Policy Aim

The Scottish Government appointed the Women in Agriculture Taskforce to bring forward practical solutions to address the issues raised by the Women in Farming and Agricultural Sector Social Research Report https://www.gov.scot/publications/women-farming-agriculture-sector/.

The Taskforce's Final Report of their recommendations can be found here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/final-report-women-agriculture-taskforce/

One of the central recommendations in this report was that the Scottish Government will develop a Women in Agriculture Development Programme (WiADP). This should be an accessible programme that delivers training and mentoring to support women in agriculture to build their confidence, enhance their business skills and develop their leadership abilities. The programme should be delivered through three specific but independent courses: personal development training (Be Your Best Self), knowing your business, and leadership development.This should lead to a cohort of women ready to further develop their businesses or take up leadership roles in Scottish agriculture. The training aims to remove some of the barriers identified by women themselves in the Research Report (above), and to advance equality for women within the agricultural industry.

This policy contributes towards the following national outcomes: we have a globally competitive, entrepreneurial and inclusive economy; we have thriving and innovative businesses with fair work for everyone; we respect, protect and fulfil human rights, free from discrimination; we live in communities that are empowered, inclusive and resilient.

Who will it affect?

This will have a large impact on women, particularly those women in rural communities, as it offers the opportunity of training and skill development, as well as empowerment in terms of decision making and influence within farming businesses. It will have an impact on everyone in agriculture, from those in farming families and crofting communities to those in larger agricultural businesses and organisations.

It will have a positive impact on these enterprises in terms of business development and profitability, and may also help to bring about wider change to the rural economy by opening up certain opportunities and sectors to a wider cohort of people thereby fostering good relations between people in a sector which has been traditionally not been the most diverse . This emphasis on diversity and inclusivity will also encourage organisations and businesses to re-consider certain processes and practices, bringing a greater degree of creativity and innovation to Scottish agriculture.

There is an ongoing need to engage positively with the industry to manage any perceived negativity around the programme, particularly in the farming press. The programme is designed to build women's confidence, enhance their business skills and develop their leadership abilities, in order that women can access equal opportunities with men in Scottish agriculture, helping to contribute to long-term cultural change in the industry. This cultural shift within businesses and organisations has the potential to encourage more farming families to reflect upon the gender imbalance in agricultural succession, and to view women as more natural successors in an industry which has traditionally been dominated by men.

There are risks that in addressing gender inequality there may be resistance in some quarters to the programme, however through positive engagement we are continually seeking to address those concerns. The programme will impact positively on young people, as it will provide encouragement and create more opportunities for girls and women who want to go into the agriculture sector. The associated promotion of the programme on social media and in the farming press, will create role models and inspiration for girls interested in agricultural careers, and change the perception of 'who is a farmer'.

It will impact on agricultural organisations who will be encouraged to recruit more women to their boards and leadership teams, and will have access to a greater pool of candidates who are women. This increase of diversity within the sector should prove to be a benefit to their decision making and overall performance.

The Scottish Government is mindful of the three needs of the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) - eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation, advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not, and foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not - and recognises while the measures may positively impact on one or more of the protected characteristics[1], also recognises that the introduction of the measures may have a disproportionate negative impact on one or more of the protected characteristics.

Where any negative impacts have been identified, we have sought to mitigate/eliminate these. We are also mindful that the equality duty is not just about negating or mitigating negative impacts, as we also have a positive duty to promote equality. We have sought to do this through provisions contained in the programme, and through our communications activity.

What might prevent the desired outcomes being achieved?

A reluctance to acknowledge the reality and impact of gender inequality within Scottish agriculture, may prevent some organisations from changing their practices. We are aware of some resistance to the Women in Agriculture work, with some quite vocal individuals (men and women) in the world of Scottish agriculture, viewing it as unnecessary. This may be due to less understanding in the industry of the advantages of a more diverse and equal working environment and this is something that will need to be explored further. Alongside the Women in Agriculture Development Programme, we are also piloting Unconscious Bias training for agricultural organisations, particularly aimed at boards and senior management, in order to encourage a greater awareness about diversity, when recruiting new board members and staff. This should help to alleviate some peoples' concerns around the issues of tackling inequality and should help to demonstrate the benefits of advancing of equality of opportunity in the sector.

There are some people who feel that a training programme for women could discriminate against men in the industry. This is not the case: the training is a form of positive action which is seeking to address disadvantage and under-representation amongst a protected group. Therefore these measures, which are targeted at women, are viewed as a proportionate means of meeting the legitimate aim of enabling or encouraging persons to overcome or minimise disadvantage; or meeting the different needs of the protected group; or enabling or encouraging persons in protected groups to participate in an activity. In this case to address the current imbalance and level the field for women in agriculture. We are aware of the views of people in the sector and that cultural change may take a long time. However this programme is designed to be a vehicle to bring about that change.

Finally, there are also factors around the delivery of the training which will determine its success. The courses need to be accessible to as wide a range of women as possible, across different geographical areas of Scotland, and to as many women as possible, in order to achieve substantial change within the industry. Particularly the timing and location of the courses must take into account the particular needs of women with caring responsibilities, as this was identified in the research report[2] as a key barrier to attendance at training courses.

The Scope of the Equality Impact Assessment

This programme is designed to address the barriers facing women in Scottish agriculture, which prevent them from accessing the same opportunities as men within the industry. At present women face inequality in accessing opportunities for training, career progression and leadership in agricultural organisations and businesses. Added to this are the issues around gendered succession in farming businesses, preventing many women from developing their full potential in agriculture.

On that basis, as the programme is being rolled out across Scotland to all women living or working in Scottish agriculture, the Scottish Government has considered the measures in the programme against the needs of the general equality duty as set out in section 149 of the Equality Act 2010 to eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation, advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not, and foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not. The Scottish Government has also considered whether the measures could constitute direct and/or indirect discrimination.

Specifically, the EQIA considers impacts on equalities groups based on the three tests it is required to address:

  • Does this policy eliminate discrimination for each of the nine protected characteristics? If not is the discrimination justifiable? Can it be mitigated?
  • Does this policy advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not?
  • Does this policy foster good community relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not?

There has been discussion and dialogue with external stakeholders within the agricultural industry, including those who represent younger people – specifically the Scottish Association of Young Farmers and the Next Generation Group within the NFUS, as well as groups supporting new entrants into the industry. The Taskforce also consulted with organisations such as Changing the Chemistry, a charity which seeks to improve the diversity of boards, and has a wealth of experience in tackling unconscious bias.

These discussions and the work of the Taskforce have helped in the consideration of the existing and potential impacts – negative and positive – that this programme might have on each of the protected characteristics. This EQIA has also sought to use existing and emerging information and evidence and analysis, as part and parcel of the decision making process


Email: sara.thorpe@gov.scot

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