Media release from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

D1 / 7 MARCH 2002

Women in Agriculture Pay Their Way

Women on farms earn almost half Australia's total real farm income, according to leading rural affairs commentator, farmer and advisor to the Federal Government Cathy McGowan.

"Adding together the value of farm women's on-farm contribution, their off-farm wage income and the value of household, volunteer and community work, women contribute 48 per cent of total real farm income," says Ms McGowan.

"This contribution was worth almost $14 billion in 1995-96 - $4 billion in on-farm work, $1 billion in off-farm work, over $8 billion in household work and almost $500,000 in volunteer and community work.

"Women's work counts and it needs to be counted in the trade equation."

Cathy McGowan, who chairs the Regional Women's Advisory Council, will speak at a seminar at 12noon today at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to mark International Women's Week which runs from 3-9 March Australia-wide.

2002 is the Year of the Outback and DFAT has selected Women in Agriculture as its theme for International Women's Week. The presentation in Canberra today is a major event in DFAT's observation of International Women's Day 2002 in Australia and at embassies abroad.

Also speaking on the importance of women in agriculture will be Janet Holmes Court, the chairman of one of Australia's biggest privately owned companies.

Mrs Holmes Court, who grew up on her parents' acreage in the hills near Perth, inherited Heytesbury Pty Ltd in 1990 with food and wine among its core activities. She set about restructuring the company, increasing its staff from 1000 in 1990 to 7000 today. In 1995, she was awarded an Order of Australia for her service to business, arts and the community.

Embassy activities to mark International Women's Week will include a "Women in Post-Taliban Afghanistan" panel discussion in Rome led by the Italian Undersecretary of State for Foreign Affairs Margherita Boniver and a luncheon in Dili to be addressed by Maria Domingas Fernandes, the recently appointed Adviser for the Promotion of Equality to East Timor's Chief Minister.

MEDIA ARE INVITED TO ATTEND THE ADDRESSES AT 12NOON TODAY IN THE ATRIUM, DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND TRADE, JOHN MCEWEN CRESCENT, BARTON.

Media inquiries: Julie McDonald 6261 1555