Jennifer Medway is no stranger to having to wear many hats while juggling multiple priorities and commitments. As well as being a sheep farmer and mother from Gunning NSW, she is also Senior Manager of the Rural Futures portfolio at AgriFutures Australia.
The Rural Futures portfolio is focused on informing debate on issues of importance to rural industries, adapting new technologies for use across rural industries and working collaboratively on issues common across rural sectors.
“The core of our work is about transformational industry action and driving initiatives that are going to deliver impact across the sector. We work hard to build strong partnerships with RDCs, industry and government, so that collectively we are implementing real change that benefits our farmers, fishers and foresters,” said Jennifer.
Jennifer is proud of the work AgriFutures Australia has been doing in celebrating International Day of Rural Women and would like to see this recognition continue beyond this day.
“Our rural communities are made up of a strong base of women just getting on and doing good things. They don’t do it for the attention or the accolades, but simply because it’s who they are and it’s what needs to be done,” said Jennifer.
“In a sector that is commonly associated with men, it is important to acknowledge the intrinsic role women play. This can be anything from managing the day-to-day running of the farm, to working in the sheep yards, to representing the industry in positions of leadership – there are women all across our rural industries driving impactful innovations and important change in their own ways.”
As the Manager, Cross Sector Programs at AgriFutures Australia Jill Whitehouse is excited about the scope of projects she gets to oversee on daily basis.
“I love the area because I get the chance to work with a really diverse and interesting group of people. The outcome of their projects don’t just impact one industry e.g. horticulture or meat, they extend across a broad sector of Australian agriculture. You see collaboration of ideas in action,” said Jill.
Jill is excited about the progress that is being made in showcasing all the incredible roles women play in agriculture and feels that it is important to continue encouraging the next generation of women entering the sector.
“Some women have the perception that it is hard to get your foot in the door in this sector, especially as a woman. But my advice to any young women looking to enter the sector is simple. Bring your skills, your passion, and your drive, everything else you can learn. The joy comes from the journey,” said Jill.
Jane Lovell, who manages the National Rural Issues program at AgriFutures Australia, says that collaboration really is the backbone of everything they do.
“We’re working on addressing the common issues that sit across agriculture – from water, agtech, extension and adoption – these are all areas that have national significance, so it is important we’re working closely with the other RDCs, industry bodies and the private sector to achieve the best outcomes,” said Jane.
For Jane, the importance of highlighting the opportunities in industry for women cannot be understated and she feels that this is another issue that needs to be addressed across the sector.
“Even though I’ve never felt overlooked because of my gender, I do think women are underrepresented in our industries,” said Jane.
“During my earlier career as a plant pathologist, I really didn’t see many other women studying or working in STEM fields. To encourage more women to take up the mantle in the sector, I think it’s important that we continue to showcase all the amazing women working in rural industries and highlight the endless possibilities available to them.”
AgriFutures Australia would like to thank Jennifer, Jill and Jane for the continued hard work, contribution, and leadership with their programs.
International Day of Rural Women
We have launched a hashtag #hatsofftoruralwomen across our social media channels and encourage you to use this hashtag and share the stories of the rural, regional and remote women you work with and the reasons why they inspire you.
For more information about the United Nations’ International Day of Rural Women, please visit: https://www.un.org/en/observances/rural-women-day