Saturday, 14 October 2023
Open International Day of Rural Women Conference
I am very pleased to join you for this inaugural conference, marking the UN’s International Day of Rural Women.
I thank Rachel for her vision to bring women together to discuss the challenges and opportunities that come with being a woman in rural South Australia, particularly as an entrepreneur, and for bringing that vision to life with this event.
The theme of this year’s International Day is “Rural Women Cultivating Good Food for All”, and I thank the women here today who are involved in agriculture, whether it’s in a paid or unpaid capacity, working for an employer or perhaps on the family farm.
I encourage you to make the most of the networking opportunities presented today.
Throughout my career I have seen a generosity amongst women to support each other, and to mentor each other as well, and I hope that some long-lasting links may be forged today.
Gender equality is a priority for me. I have pursued the advancement of women in my diplomatic career and continue to do so now as Governor.
I am privileged to have the opportunity to engage with women across many sectors of South Australian society: in defence, government, business, the not-for-profit sector, multicultural communities and rural communities, and it has been my pleasure to meet many women during my regular visits to the regions.
Women in country areas are often the backbone of their local communities, and wherever you come from, I thank you all for the role you play.
You are farmers, business owners, workers, carers, educators, connectors, communicators, volunteers, entrepreneurs, wise heads and friends.
I have heard rural women speak about the considerable challenges of rural living, including isolation, lack of access to services, and gender stereotyping.
I have witnessed their considerable capacity for innovation and resilience, adapting to change and showing strong leadership.
As you are well aware, country communities are often reliant on agriculture, and perhaps one or two other major industries, for their livelihood and our state as a whole relies heavily on you, too.
To the entrepreneurs here today, I thank you for playing a role in diversifying the economic base of your communities.
For the women here who have their own businesses while also undertaking other work, such as on the family farm, I note the effort and skill it takes to juggle multiple roles in your life.
For decades now, a large number of country communities have seen population loss as young people, in particular, move to Adelaide in search of more work and other life opportunities.
During and since COVID it’s been pleasing to see this trend move, if modestly, in the opposite direction.
As entrepreneurs and creative thinkers, I encourage you to consider the problems facing your community and what you might be able to do to solve them, to fill a gap, and to provide a service to what may be a growing market.
I trust today’s event will be both productive and enjoyable, and I thank the guest speaker Mel McGorman and panellists Alex Thomas, Natalie Sommerville and Steph Schmidt for their participation.
Each year, South Australia’s regions contribute $36 billion to our state’s economy, as recognised by the recent State Budget.
Our regions are incredibly important to the health of our State as a whole, and I thank you all for helping to make our country communities dynamic and prosperous places into the future.