Some women are rural by birth, some by choice and others like me become rural by marriage.
It’s now more than a quarter of a century since I took on my farmer. Back then it was the norm if you married a man of the land to follow him to his land regardless of whether or not you could follow your own career in the country.
Now, many younger women place a much higher value on their right to follow their chosen path then my contemporaries and I did. But some still find that they can’t have it all. It isn’t always possible to follow their careers if they follow their hearts and find themselves on a farm too far from a city for commuting.
Irrigation has brought farmers’ offspring and other young people back to our valley for the first time since the ag-sag of the 1980s. Some are women coming home to farm, more are men and many of them have brought partners or wives with them.
Among them are intelligent, well-educated, confident young women with established careers and some find they aren’t able to carry on working in their chosen fields.
Improved communication through texting and the internet mean they aren’t as isolated as they would have been a decade or two ago. It helps that it is no longer unusual to have women working as stock agents, fertiliser reps, vets and in other positions which were once regarded as “men’s jobs”. But the women who choose farmers still have to adapt to a different way of life in the country.
They aren’t martyrs, though. Some take an active role on the farm, some find other ways to use their talents in paid work and in the community.
The theme of this year’s International Rural Women’s Day, which is being marked today, is rural women at the heart of innovation.
The new breed of rural women is living proof of that.