The slow recognition of women in the agricultural world

"When one comes in my farm and asked the boss, I used to reply proudly: "I am the boss!"" At the age of 53, Roseline Mahé no longer takes tweezers to highli

The slow recognition of women in the agricultural world

"When one comes in my farm and asked the boss, I used to reply proudly: "I am the boss!"" At the age of 53, Roseline Mahé no longer takes tweezers to highlight the notes for unintentionally minimize the role of women in the economy. This breeder of cattle, of which the "farm of the Picardière" is located in Ille-et-Vilaine, a half-hour away from Rennes, moved to his account in 1997. She came to present its products at the Salon of Agriculture 2019, in Paris, of which the doors close this Sunday.

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The 56th edition of this key event was selected as this year's slogan, "women, men, talent!". However, it is clear that among the professionals present, the operators are much less numerous than the farmers. Most of the women who represent the profession are married to a farmer, or are daughters of a farmer, but rarely a farmer within the meaning official. At the national level, however, on 927.000 agricultural workers, 37% are women, and a quarter of 461.800 heads of operating or coexploitants are female

"agriculture, it is a middle of the machos."

Maryse Lecellier, breeder of dairy cows

This is the case for Maryse Lecellier, 36, breeder of Jersiaises, a breed of dairy cows, in the Orne region. Initially farmer with her parents, she works alone on the farm since his father retired last year. "I had a lot of difficulties to establish myself as a woman, demonstrates. Agriculture, it is a middle of the machos."

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It has made the bitter observation when it was part of the young farmers. "We hear all the time from the side. It is an environment where it is necessary to have a lot of character to be able to establish itself as a single woman. We must work much more than men, so the personal life takes a hit. It is necessary to have a spouse who is very understanding, which occupies more of the children and household chores," says the one who said "happy to have this chance."

Inequality tasks

"Our visibility is improving, but there is still a long way," says Roseline Mahé, which in addition to its activities is a member of the Chamber of agriculture as well as of the departmental Federation of the trade unions of farmers (FDSEA) of Ille-et-Vilaine. "For my part, I had right from the start responsibilities that allowed me to compete with the men, but it has not always been easy." What Roseline Mahé regrets first of all, it is precisely the lack of decision-making of women in the agricultural world. "For a long time, a woman on the farm it was milking cows, the paperwork and the children," she recalls. "We could not conceive the idea of a wife doing tasks considered important, and even worse, manages a farm." The breeder mentions in particular the law of agricultural modernization, which opens the possibility to form groupings d'exploitation en commun (GAEC), between spouses, and that has been put in place in 2010 only. "Before this we could not install in a joint operation, we had to look for alternatives." Her husband, Jean-Yves, has joined as a coexploitant two years ago.

breaking stereotypes

This Friday morning, Isabelle Solomon, 49 years old, farmer in dairy production in Brittany, came to the agricultural Show for talk to women. With his animated "my boots", the elected chamber of agriculture intends to combat gender stereotypes in the agricultural world. "In Britain, we have always been in the lead on these issues," she says. As of 2007, she decided with other elected women representatives of chambers of agriculture of Brittany to come together in a network under the name "Agriculture" women. It is the only network of this kind in France. "We organize training sessions aimed to address the concerns of women farmers, for example: how to reconcile professional life and family life, how to strengthen the decision-making..."

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she said, "it is critical that the parity is to be effective in the chambers of elected officials, to ensure the visibility of women in the agricultural world. In Britain, 30% of agricultural workers are women, but in positions of high responsibility, they are not more than 15%. We advocate for a minimum of 30% women representatives in the boards of directors of the professional agricultural bodies in the region".

Hopes of youth

For Justine Fusi, 29 years old, breeder of cows abondance in Haute-Savoie, "agriculture is a work of less physical thanks to the technology, which allows us to be as useful as the men." Isabelle Solomon shares this opinion: "the progress is such that we no longer have any need of a man to work with machines in the fields, since everything is automated". Justine Fusi explains that "we, women, are often more attentive to the animals, to the details. We are usually more maternal. And then, technically, we also have another vision of things. We are complementary of men." This is a view shared by Maryse Lecellier which finds that "a greater sensitivity to health issues in particular".

For the young generation, the progress is already visible. Justine Fusi believes that "the women have their full place in agriculture. I do sense in my operation, any exclusion of the part of men." For her, who has joined the exploitation of his spouse two years ago and was working with his mother-in-law, "it is clearly a profession is increasingly feminised. Of course, there are still a lot of employees, but we see more and more women chief operating officer, or which are coexploitantes, like me."

"It will be necessary that they accept us, the agricultural world has more need than ever of the succession -"

Sarah, aspiring farmer of Britain

This optimism, it is found in the eyes of Julie, Chloe, Énora, Sarah, Coline and Clear, students come from the Côte d'armor and Morbihan, all aspiring farmers. "Both in college," remarked Sarah, it was stigmatized as daughters of a farmer - they explained to us that a woman was not made for the farm, we needed to make more trades doow, more feminine, since high school, we could no longer find the same concerns. As girls, we are increasingly in this environment, and by welding all the face of prejudice, there will be fewer problems." And shove: "it will be necessary that they accept us, the agricultural world has more need than ever of the changing".

Updated Date: 05 March 2019, 00:00

Kathleen Lees


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