Break­ing the 'Grass Ceil­ing'

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Keith­lin Ca­roo

Some time ago I saw an ar­ti­cle on agri­en­ter­prise train­ing for farm­ers. In­ter­est­ingly, but un­sur­pris­ingly, when look­ing at the photo in the ar­ti­cle, most of the par­tic­i­pants were men. Based on teh image, some­one un­fa­mil­iar with the agri­cul­tural land­scape in Saint Lu­cia might think that most farm­ers are men. Un­for­tu­nately, many of the devel­op­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions that re­ceive fund­ing to put in place mea­sures for gen­der equal­ity in the agri­cul­tural sphere are of the same view.

If most farm­ers are men, why is it that, on a Satur­day morn­ing, women are the ones sell­ing pro­duce, and not the men? Some will say that women are the ven­dors and men are the farm­ers. Com­ing from a farm­ing house­hold, I've seen women hold both roles.

That is why when train­ing that could im­pact the life of ru­ral women farm­ers is tar­geted only at men, it re­veals a prob­lem that has been loom­ing over the agri­cul­tural land­scape for decades: the 'Grass Ceil­ing'.

No dif­fer­ent than the 'glass ceil­ing', women farm­ers are of­ten­times ex­cluded from com­mer­cial mar­kets, in spite of their years of ex­pe­ri­ence and ap­ti­tude.

In the pro­fes­sional world, statis­tics show that while women do bet­ter in school and grad­u­ate at a higher rate than men, we are still less em­ployed, and the agri­cul­tural sec­tor is no dif­fer­ent: women have less ac­cess to train­ing, tech­ni­cal sup­port and fi­nan­cial in­cen­tives. How can we en­sure that women farm­ers—of­ten one of the most marginal­ized groups—are truly pri­or­i­tized and not left be­hind when the very in­sti­tu­tions en­trusted with their de­vel­op­ment don't count them in?

The grass ceil­ing, sim­i­lar to the glass ceil­ing, keeps women ex­cluded.

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