International Day of Rural Women on Saturday 15 October is a chance to celebrate the women who contribute to feeding one-third of the world's population.
- Charles Sturt University academic said climate change has forced us to change the way we think about farming
- Dr Sarina Kilham is trying to encourage more young women into a career in agriculture
- International Day of Rural Women is on Saturday 15 October
Do not be fooled by the amount of pre-packaged and processed food in your supermarket – one-third of the world’s food comes from small farms.
And Lecturer in Agriculture Extension and Rural Sociology in the Charles Sturt University School of Agricultural, Environmental and Veterinary Sciences in Wagga Wagga Dr Sarina Kilham is ensuring women in the agriculture industry are being heard.
Dr Kilham was born in Darwin and grew up in regional NSW and Western Australia. She now dedicates her working career to ensuring the longevity and innovation of sustainable agriculture.
She lives in Sydney but her work and teachings are based in Wagga Wagga, a region she said is intensely focused on rural communities.
The split between the two locations allows for ease of movement in her research project, which focuses on food systems and how they link from agriculture to food production, to what ends up in urban areas.
“My interest lies in the social side of agriculture and rural livelihoods,” she said.
“Because I grew up out of town on a rural block, I always had a strong affinity with nature. After working in Southeast Asia for a decade, I became interested in agriculture.
“My research brings together a lot of my interests around people, because there is culture in agriculture.
“I see agriculture embedded in communities, culture and society and what we value.”
Dr Kilham said agriculture is one of the most exciting industries to work in right now as this era of climate change forces us to consider global challenges, including feeding the growing global population.
She said the next generation is likely to miss out on things if we don’t change the way we structure our society and how we practice agriculture.
“We are going to have to figure out how we want to live and the type of lifestyle we maintain and how we do that within safe planetary boundaries,” she said.
International Day of Rural Women is on Saturday 15 October and Dr Kilham said women are the ‘souls’ of the land and this day is worthy of recognition.
“Rural women are integral to their communities, to their families, but also to our global food supply system,” she said.
According to a 2016 survey by the Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, based on ABS data, 32 per cent of the Australian agricultural workforce was comprised of women. Forty-three per cent of women in the agriculture industry worked in sheep, beef cattle and grain farming and women represented 44 per cent of the workforce in nursery and floriculture production.
Charles Sturt has experienced a 58 per cent increase in female agriculture students from 2005 to 2022.
Since 2010, courses where Charles Sturt has showed the most noticeable increases in female enrolments are:
- 181 per cent for Bachelor of Agricultural Science
- 111 per cent in Bachelor of Horticulture
- 22 per cent in Bachelor of Agricultural Business Management
- 386 per cent in Bachelor of Wine Science
Dr Kilham said young women will be the key in ensuring agriculture is thriving instead of surviving as we move into the future.
“They are educated, they are creative, they are really aware about global climate change, global food systems and that we need to do agriculture in a different way,” she said.
One of the ways Dr Kilham is hoping to increase engagement of young women is through social media, particularly Tik Tok.
The social media platform is a great way to engage and educate young women interested in agriculture, according to Dr Kilham. It also gives women a chance to see what else is happening in the agriculture space on a global scale.
Dr Kilham also wants to redefine how we use the term ‘farmer’. She is hoping to do a Tik Tok series on breaking down the terminology and demonstrating its inclusivity.
“People assume when you say ‘farmer’ that you're talking about a man, but farmer could be a man, a woman or a nonbinary person. There is no gender associated with farmer,” she said.
But despite the misuse of the term farmer, Dr Kilham said women should not assume there is a gender bias in agriculture industries.
“I think that might be keeping some women out, but I don’t think it’s any worse in the agriculture sector than it is anywhere else,” she said.
“I think agriculture is one of the places that you can be immediately accepted.
“Knowledge trumps all in agriculture.”
Dr Sarina Kilham is on Tik Tok via @sarinakilham.
To arrange interviews with Dr Sarina Kilham, contact Nicole Barlow at Charles Sturt Media on mobile 0429 217 026 or email@example.com
|Period||14 Oct 2022 → 15 Oct 2022|
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