Fighting gender discrimination and empowering women in agriculture 

Image by Patricio Hurtado from Pixabay.

Women are becoming more involved in different areas of agriculture. However, gender gaps in employment, income, and resources are still a hindrance to their growth and success. 

MOCA Family Farm RLearning Center’s farm school director Gigi Morris said that knowledge and education are good weapons to counterattack any kinds of gender biases, discrimination, and negative stereotypes. These are tools that women can use to identify their strengths as farmers or agricultural practitioners.

“[When] going into agriculture, an industry where gender roles are stereotypes, we must be willing to challenge the [notions].”

She continues, “My advice on situations when we feel we are disadvantaged is to turn it around, create an opportunity, and make it an advantage!”

When this farmer took her first steps into the agribusiness, she was fortunate to be surrounded by a supportive community. She is also blessed with a horticulturist and educator husband who loves farming as much as she does.

As a result, she recognizes the benefits of networking and strongly advises other women entering the field to find a community and a safe place where they can learn and connect.

On leveraging women’s skills 

Women are endowed with skills and attributes. If given equal opportunities, women leaders can do wonders in agriculture and other industries. 

In celebration of National Women’s Month this March, four female farmers shared qualities that women must cultivate or use to reach their goals and thrive in this profession.

Versatility. Morris, who had over 20 years of experience in the fashion and apparel industry before going into agriculture, realized that the skills and lessons she obtained from her previous career are something she can carry over her life regardless of the industry she’s in.

“My skills in product development and design are something I use a lot in creating new food ideas. My operations management skills allowed me to break down the day-to-day production activities of the farm. My being a homeschool educator is something I used when I conduct agri-related training.”

Morris encourages aspiring or rookie female farmers who came from other lines of work to evaluate and apply their transferable skills to agriculture.

Adaptability also aids Lhea Mallillin of Sangui Gold Farm in achieving her farm goals. This includes the willingness to make mistakes and learn from them. 

“Being adaptable is very advantageous, especially in dealing with problems [on the farm], as well as becoming acquainted with new practices and techniques in farming.” 

Farming life is fraught with constant changes and uncertainties, this is why problem-solving skills are highly important, she adds.

Perseverance and social sensitivity. “There are a lot of successful women in agriculture now, even in other fields. Strength of character, a lot of patience, being hands-on practitioner, and persistence are important for women to become successful in agriculture and in managing an agribusiness,” said agripreneurs Viola Fern Sebastian, and Frianina ‘Nina’ Resplandor of Myriad Farms.

Many women are silently working in or out of the field and making strides in Philippine agriculture. However, many of them, too, remain voiceless and are in need of stronger support and recognition.

This is high time to rethink existing gender norms and address them for more progressive agriculture.

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Vina Medenilla
Vina Medenilla is a content producer for Agriculture Monthly magazine. She is a graduate from Miriam College with a bachelor’s degree in Communication. Fashion, photography, and travel are some of the things she loves. For her, connection with nature is essential to one’s life.

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