“Women have been and are levers of modernization on farms”

On the occasion of March 8, International Day of Working Women, we interviewed women, men and companies that inspire equality in the agri-food sector. One of them is Cajamar Caja Rural, sponsor of the I Women Agro Awards. With his director of Agrifood Innovation, Roberto García Torrente, we talked about the need to value the cases in which the woman is the protagonist of successful projects to encourage others to be proactive in assuming responsibilities.

By Marga López, agrifood journalist.

The first step to achieve a real integration of women in the agri-food sector is to become aware of the existing inequality, do you think we are at that point?

We believe that society is increasinly aware of the inequality and the fewer opportunities that women have in any field. And with greater intensity in the agri-food sector, since its presence is much lower than it deserves. The recognition of this inequality is a first step to be able to advance in its integration. Women have always played a very important role in agricultural operations, although it has not been visible in many cases. But that implication has had its positive effects. In many cases, the most dynamic farms, which have modernized and grown the most, have been those in which women have been very involved in decision-making. However, in the later stages of the agri-food chain, and especially in the food industries and cooperatives, the role of women has been much smaller. This is probably one of the reasons why our cooperatives and industries have a lower level of integration and incorporate less value to raw materials than similar companies in other European countries. The lack of a generous, collective and long-term vision of many of our companies is closely related to the limited role of women in these areas

We are in the process of reform of the CAP, and a clear objective of the Member States, including Spain, is to include the gender perspective in this reform, is it enough, what concrete measures do you think should be adopted?

The adoption of administrative, political and economic support measures can help to promote the participation of women in agrifood companies, but we believe that education and awareness are especially lacking. Valuing the cases in which the woman is the protagonist of successful projects can serve to encourage others to be proactive in assuming responsibilities, and to show the population in general the benefits obtained by organizations with a broader vision. and diverse of the strategy and execution of the projects.

The adoption of administrative, political and economic support measures can help, but we believe that there is a lack of education and awareness

In Spain, only 23% of farms are in the hands of women. On what concrete projects is Cajamar working to achieve greater integration of agro-professional women?

In the first place, we try to lead by example and there are many women who in Cajamar are developing projects for the agri-food sector. Cajamar’s Agri-Food Innovation area consists of 39 people, of whom 19 are women with technical and higher education. In addition, we organize conferences in which the work carried out by women in the different stages of the agri-food chain, from production, transformation, marketing or research, is exposed and valued. To give a couple of examples, last February we celebrated the meeting “Women in the agri-food sector of the 21st century: a look into the future”, in which different women entrepreneurs and positions of responsibility in the Spanish agri-food sector have shared their experiences and exposed the challenges that we will have to face in the coming years. And on the occasion of the International Day of Working Women, from March 1 to 8, we will show a series of protest banners of this celebration in our most emblematic buildings. All this work has been recognized with the Equality Badge that Cajamar has awarded the Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality. In short, we try to ensure that there is a greater presence of women in all the activities we organize, both as speakers and protagonists and as recipients of the knowledge we transfer. On many occasions, with great satisfaction on our part, we find events in which the number of women is greater than that of men. And of course we also show our support to organizations that celebrate activities that work for the recognition of the role of women in the agri-food sector.

In this sense, Cajamar has sponsored and collaborated with the I Women Agro Awards, which seek to give visibility to the agro-professional woman, what do you think of this type of initiative?

As we have said before, this type of activity can do more to encourage society in the integration of women in the agri-food sector than any political or administrative measure. And the more organizations we work in a coordinated way in this objective, the greater the impact of the different initiatives.