A guest blog by Angela Lovell
In her excellent blog post today in celebration of International Women’s Day, April Stewart emphasizes how we all need to participate in helping women amplify their voices, so they don’t go unheard or overlooked, and so that their contributions are recognized and valued.
It’s an important point and I encourage everyone to read April’s full post here. But, as important as it is to amplify women’s voices, we also need to exemplify the many important achievements and pinnacles that women have reached in their various roles. These women can serve as mentors and role models for other women who want to find their place in the Canadian agricultural industry, and help them understand how and where they can assist in moving the industry forward.
I asked a number of women who have achieved high-profile roles in the ag industry to provide their insight into how they amplify and exemplify the voices and work of other women in sector.
Peggy Brekveld, President of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture Board of Directors
“The team is built by encouragement. Others encouraged me early on in my leadership journey, and I see a role for a chair to encourage others to grow, to explore, to share their thoughts in a safe place. New to the board or long-time member, where they come from, male or female or otherwise – all should have an opportunity to contribute. When we realize that we are all valued members of the team, the team is stronger for it.”
Justine Hendrick, Farm Credit Canada President and CEO
“Women are exceptional leaders, innovators and communicators. Regardless of job title, as women, we can use our unique skills to add value and support the long-term success of the agriculture and food industry, whether it’s in the field, in the boardroom or on the production floor.”
Jennifer Wright, Executive Director, Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council
“I think the very common saying of “if you see it, you can be it” holds true when amplifying the voice of women in agriculture. I have benefited from having many women ag leaders as role models. My mom was the first example of this. She was an equal partner in the family farm equipment dealership in the 1970s and 80s – before it was more common for women to play that type of role. She clearly showed me by example that women could and should play a leadership role in agriculture. Now in my current role, it is important to not only set a positive example but to also foster the career development of other women to pursue their own leadership roles whether it be in associations and Boards or on farms and in agri-business.”