Total working to close the gender gap in SA’s agriculture, forestry, fishery and mining industries
1- Drive inclusivity for women
Only around a third of the industry’s workforce is made up of women. The effects of improving women’s participation rates in commercial farming are far-reaching. Studies have shown that women’s incomes have a big impact on food security, and it follows, then, that increasing the number of women drawing salaries and wages from the industry could, in turn, also help us tackle the challenge of food insecurity.
2- Plant and invest back into the sector
The private and smaller businesses in the sector are competing against multinational companies, which places them under immense pressure. These businesses’ participation is largely limited to the small economies of their local communities. And the few that are already in the market, need support in form of upskilling and financial investment to sustain this challenging phase.
3- Marketing the sector
As the business environment continues to evolve, we are seeing marked growth in different sectors and shrinkages in other markets. Urbanisation and digitisation have started to engulf industries like agriculture and fishery, that are widely considered “outdated” career paths and investments. We need to market the industry and honour its leaders in order for it to remain attractive to upcoming generations. We are slowly seeing digital research and conversations around how digitisation is changing the sector, which we hope will ultimately prove a draw card for development in the industry.
DAFF Female Entrepreneur Awards
As investors and partners in the agriculture industry, Total has partnered with DAFF as main strategic partner of their annual DAFF Female Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. The initiative is aimed at driving inclusion of women in the economic mainstream of agriculture, forestry and fisheries as well as at empowering entrepreneurs and encouraging investment. These awards are an important steppingstone towards the elimination of skewed participation in the sector.
The awards are open to entrepreneurs in a range of different categories, from around the country, and the overall winner is awarded a prize of R500,000 to be invested back into their business. Through these awards, we acknowledge the strides already made by women in the sector and also encourage their further participation.
These awards have made a significant contribution to the empowerment of women in the economic mainstream and to date, a total of 336 women entrepreneurs have benefited from this initiative. Last year’s figures also show that the number of young people entering the awards is on the rise, which is a promising sign for the sector overall – considering that the average age of a farmer in South Africa is currently around 62.
Women make up half of the country’s population and to truly transform South Africa’s primary economic sectors, we need to invest in and encourage their increased participation therein.
If we only give them the right tools, our women have the potential to make a real impact in terms of tackling the industry’s challenges as well as those that we, as a nation, are currently facing.