Series shines light on women

Daryna ZadvirnaCountryman
Esperance farmer Belinda Lay.
Camera IconEsperance farmer Belinda Lay. Credit: Danielle Halford Photography

An innovative Australian documentary project is aiming to put a spotlight on the hidden roles of women in agriculture, with the launch of its first series on WA’s female farmers at Dowerin GWN7 Machinery Field Days.

Displayed in the Art Area, which has been converted to a story hub to align with the field days’ theme, “Celebrating Our Story”, alongside Rural Room’s pop-up porch initiative, the Visible Farmer project is expected to rouse the interest of field days attendees.

Each episode of the 15-part series will feature different women in farming from all corners of the State, their story and the messages they would like to convey to the wider public.

Director and producer Gisela Kaufmann said the project aimed to empower women, challenge gender stereotypes within the agricultural industry and celebrate an often forgotten demographic of farmers.

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“There’s an old stereotype that men are the farmers, sitting on tractors and running the farm, and the women are simply farmers’ wives who look after the house, but that has all changed,” Ms Kaufmann said.

“The farming communities are very aware of it but the wider public isn’t — many don’t realise that 49 per cent of all food in Australia is produced by women.”

The first episode of the series, filmed over the past 10 months, will be digitally launched at Dowerin Field Days and a number of the women who feature in the short films will be present to answer questions and chat.

The winner of this year’s AgriFutures WA Rural Women’s Award, Belinda Lay is one participant.

The Esperance sheep and wheat farmer said she was excited to be a part of the launch this Dowerin Field Days.

“Telling stories about women is important and the perception of farmers being male needs to be strongly addressed,” Ms Lay said.

“We’ve played a silent role in farms for a very long time but we’ve always been here, we’ve always been an important part of farming — we just don’t often get our stories told.”

Each season of the documentary project will be filmed in a different State, but Ms Kaufmann said she was glad it had begun in WA.

“When we set out to do the series we contacted all the women’s bodies around the country and it was the Rural Regional Remote Women’s Network of WA that got back to us first and told us to come here,” she said.

“It’s been really inspiring, there are so many stories in WA and the agricultural sector here is so big and diverse.”

For more information on the project, go to visiblefarmer.com or head to the Art Area, to the southern end of the field days site.

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