Yes, we’re female and we’re farmers

Half of all we eat, half of the rural workforce and half of all farm income is produced by women.

Yet if you Google ‘Australian farmer’ in 2019, 90 per cent of all images show white middle-aged men.

Until 1994 Australian women could not legally claim to be ‘farmers’, the law defined them as domestics, helpmates and farmers’ wives.

A new series of short-films, produced by the Visible Farmers initiative, from today, aims to smash stereotypes and change the face of modern agriculture.

Challa Station pastoralists and one of the women profiled in the series, Debbie Dowden with the Visible Farmer film crew. Photo: ©2019 Kaufmann Productions Pty Ltd.

The first season of the series will consist of 15 short-films, discovering the untold stories of the hardworking women across the country that are behind all our food and fibre, and reveal the vital, innovative role they play in Australia’s agriculture sector.

“The days of the solo man running the station on his own and gazing off into the sunset, they’re over,” Challa Station pastoralists and one of the women profiled in the series, Debbie Dowden said.

At its heart Visible Farmer is about gender equality and food security, with strong, positive stories from Australia’s farming communities.

“We want people to join the movement, share the films, spread the word, encourage other women and support women farmers,” Visible Farmer Director Gisela Kaufmann said.

Chris Higham, goat muster Meedo Station, Gascoyne. Photo: ©2019 Kaufmann Productions Pty Ltd.

Visible farmer is determined to not let the under-representation of women in agriculture go unrecognised.

  • Agricultural commodity councils are 91% men and 9% women
  • Rural representative bodies are 87% men and 13% women
  • Publicly listed agricultural companies are made up of 93% men and 7% women
  • Only 2.3 % of CEOs in Australian agribusinesses are female, compared with an average of 17% across other industries.

Farmers and the first female President of the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF), Fiona Simson said the Visible Farmer initiative was setting the record straight on the role of women in agriculture. 

“Women have been the backbone of agriculture since farming began in this country. Yet for many reasons, their contribution continues to go under-recognise. 

“Visible Farmer, a fantastic and crucially important initiative, is finally bringing the stories of our farming women to the fore. The NFF is a proud supporter of Visible Farmer,” she said.

The NFF are also doing their part to change the statistics around women in leadership roles. 

Women comprise 41% of the agricultural workforce but only 18% of management roles and 2.3% of CEO positions

The Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program is in its second year and establishes a mentoring program for aspiring female leaders in agriculture.


AustralianFarmers is an online community powered by the National Farmers' Federation.

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