Women Who Farm

We are Farmers: Women Who Farm
April 1st, 2020
Aiden Tait

On Sunday, March 8th, 2020, Women Who Farm, an online platform that promotes women in agriculture, posted one powerful message that would come to resonate with women in agriculture across the globe for Women’s History Month: “We are not farmer’s wives, or farmer’s daughters. We are farmers.” Following International Women’s Day’s 2020 theme, “An equal world is an enabled world,” women in agriculture have taken up the #EachforEqual and #WomeninAg tags on Instagram and Twitter to prove that they are not only growing in numbers, but that they are flourishing. As Women’s History Month draws to a close, women in agriculture are making it clear that the future of farming is strong, regenerative, and female. 

Since the 2016 Census of Agriculture, where the number of women in agriculture in Canada rose by 1.8% since 2011 to 28.7%, a new generation of young, educated female farmers have challenged the way we think about farming and agriculture. For many women, modernised agricultural practices, increased focus on regenerative agriculture, and promotion of educational attainments have allowed them to enter what has historically been a male-dominated industry. As a result, women in agriculture are turning to social media outlets and platforms to voice their stories of empowerment, education, and innovation.

An increasing number of young women are at the helm of innovative agricultural practices. For example, young women working at an industrial level are putting pioneering regenerative practices in place, including developments in soil health, crop rotation and diversity, and the integration of grazing livestock. For young women working on a smaller, often urban scale, experiments with permaculture and community-based agriculture and agricultural education have yielded positive results.

The introduction and popularity of social media platforms has also fundamentally changed the way women in agriculture discuss and share their work. Online communities such as Women Who Farm are geared toward creating conversation and support networks without being exclusionary. Both women in agriculture and women outside of agriculture are encouraged to work towards a stable, productive relationship to the land and community (both online and in real life). Many of these communities are also dedicated to gender equality promoting the importance of female role models to future agricultural workers. 

One of the greatest challenges faced by women in agriculture, however, is the fact that statistical analyses, such as the 2016 Census, do not account for all women in agricultural sectors, only those who are recognised as “farmers.” Although much of the world of agriculture advocates for keeping the family farm structure strong, the generations of mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters who are at the centre of these family farms are often excluded from the conversation. Women who work from the interior—providing for their families’ daily lives, supporting their spouses, managing the household—rarely if ever have their labour recognised as “agricultural” labour, simply because what they do is not classified as “farming.” As a result, a large section of essential female agricultural labour is overlooked.

In a time of immense social and economic upheaval, women in agriculture are making their voices heard. From the interior of the farm to the exterior, and even to the online world, women have and continue to be key figures in the future of farming and agriculture, paving the way for a new age of strength in supporting renewable land growth and taking care of their land as they take care of their community.

You can reach Aiden and view their other work here.