Breaking the 'Grass Ceiling'
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.