There was little mention of the fact that almost two-thirds of the 44,000 people who lost agricultural jobs in the first quarter of 2017 were women. This brought the number of women participating in the South African agricultural labour market to 278,000 in total, which equals a third of the sector’s total labour force.

It is distressing that women continue to be so vulnerable as workers, especially if we consider the role women play in the agricultural sector.

As the World Farmers’ Organisation points out, 80% of Africa’s agricultural production is produced by smallholder farmers and a large part of it is by women. These are important developments, not only because it is Women’s Month, but for the simple reason that we need diversity in all key positions of the agricultural sector. Crucially, as the sector continues to be viewed as an epicentre of growth and development in SA, it is important that diversity is prioritised along with these economic-growth ambitions.On leadership roles, there has been progress in the past few years in increasing the number of women in management positions within the sector. Several national agricultural associations and organisations, such as Fruit SA, Grain SA’s farmer development programme and Agbiz Grain, have prominent women at the helm. With regard to the national labour market, women remain in the minority as far as the agricultural sector employment figures are concerned, averaging 30% in Statistics ...

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