International Day of Rural Women is an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the vital role of rural women. I’m pleased to be introducing the latest Victorian Rural Women’s Network newsletter to coincide with this important day of global recognition.
Women play a multi-faceted role in our regional communities. One third of Victorian farmers are women and many work on-farm as a secondary occupation. Despite this, women remain underrepresented in leadership and decision-making roles across industries and communities.
2020 has brought many challenges, especially for rural women. Recent events, such as bushfires and the coronavirus pandemic have impacted women’s lives, including participation in the workplace. Women have been hit hard by job losses, additional caring responsibilities and feelings of isolation from their communities.
It continues to be extremely important for rural women’s voices to inform decision-making at every level as we work towards the recovery of rural and regional communities. The theme for this newsletter – ‘Reset and reskill’ – highlights the stories of many impressive rural women leaders as well as opportunities to access resources and upskill.
The Victorian Rural Women’s Leadership Program and Mentoring Program, alongside other initiatives including the Upskill and Invest – Young Farmers Scholarship Program and AgriFutures™ Rural Women’s Award, are part of the Victorian Government’s ongoing support for rural and regional women.
The number of funded places on the Leadership Program has increased while courses have moved online, making them more accessible.
I’m constantly inspired by our rural women – their innovation, resilience and ingenuity. It’s why I’m proud to support the Victorian Rural Women’s Network, helping their members to consider new opportunities to lead and be heard.
Jaclyn Symes MP, Minister for Agriculture