Here’s to the female half

On International Women’s Day, we celebrate the fact that women not only make up half of the planet (or thereabouts: for every 100 women there are 101.7 men, the United Nations estimates), we also celebrate the key role females play in the global dairy industry. Without females, there would be no dairy industry at all, as the millions of herds producing milk would not exist.

This reliance on the female does not go further down the supply chain in dairy, although almost one-third of women’s employment globally is in agriculture, according to the United Nations. “The share of women in agriculture is only 9.5 per cent in upper middle income countries and 2.6 per cent in high-income countries, while agriculture remains the most important employment sector for women in low income and lower middle income countries,” it says.

“However, women control only 12.8 per cent of agricultural land as owners, and in 40 per cent of economies, women’s early stage entrepreneurial activity is half or less than that of men.”

So, today we celebrate International Women’s Day, with the idea that the world must do better as it goes on. Women have long set the tables and provided the food, and now must be accorded a proper place at them, up and down the supply chains.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women executive director, notes, “Women have taken the helm of organisations such as the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank. Yet this is not the norm. In 2020, as a global average, women were 4.4 per cent of CEOs, occupied just 16.9 per cent of board seats, made up only 25 per cent of national parliamentarians, and just 13 per cent of peace negotiators. Only 22 countries currently have a woman as head of state or government and 119 have never experienced this.

“No country prospers without the engagement of women. We need women’s representation that reflects all women and girls in all their diversity and abilities, and across all cultural, social, economic and political situations. This is the only way we will get real societal change that incorporates women in decision-making as equals and benefits us all.”

Indeed. Make room, fellas. Your mothers, daughters and sisters would like to sit down.

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Dairy Industries International