Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue is to tell state bodies under the control of his department to improve the representation of women on their boards and will threaten to refuse nominations from bodies that don’t address gender balance.
Donegal TD Mr McConalogue will give the warning at the inaugural Women in Agriculture National Dialogue in Laois on Wednesday, chaired by former Tánaiste Mary Coughlan.
He will tell the event that he would refuse board nominations from bodies that are not hitting gender representation targets.
In remarks to be given at the conference, Mr McConalogue will say that there is an “under representation of women” on the boards of the 12 state bodies for which he has responsibility. He plans to reiterate requests to leaders of agribusiness companies to support women within their companies who want to be appointed to State boards and encourage women to put their names forward.
“Some bodies have made great progress, other are lagging behind and we can’t have a position where we are not reaching these important targets. Therefore, over the course of the Government, all state bodies can leave no stone unturned in reaching these targets. I will be left with no other option but to refuse nominations put forward if they don’t help reach our gender targets.”
Last year the Government announced a range of measures to support women’s participation in farming as part of the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) 2023-2027, which places a particular focus on promoting the participation of women in the socio-economic development of rural areas, with special attention to farming.
According to CSO statistics, 13 per cent of workers in the primary agriculture, forestry and fishing sector were women in 2019, rising to 15 per cent in 2020. The CSO’s farm structure survey, undertaken in 2016, recorded 71,700 women working on farms, of which less than a quarter were farm holders.
Food Vision 2030, the Government’s 10-year strategy for the agri-food sector, includes actions to promote and improve gender balance at all levels and recommended the national conference to discuss gender issues in farming.
The event will also hear from speakers including Germany’s former Agriculture Minister Julia Klockner and Glanbia CEO Siobhán Talbot.