In honour of International Day of Rural Women today, we sat down with Kate Gunn, who runs a faming business with her family in Gunnedah and is an investor of FairVine Super.
Tell us about yourself.
My family and I run a farming business near Gunnedah. We are a true family farm: both my parents are still 110% active in the business and my brother and I work with them. As an aside, his wife has moved here from Vaucluse and taken to rural living exceptionally well! She is now a mum of three, and works primary school teaching 2 days per week.
What does it mean to be a rural woman in Australia?
Taken literally, it means you are in a shrinking minority living outside Australia’s urban centres. To be embracing rural life however, means to be passionate about rural, regional and remote Australia, and to be determined to ensure that our rural communities are attractive places for our children to be able to thrive.
How does gender inequality affect rural women?
It’s not dissimilar to how it affects non-rural women.
The job market is skewed with females disproportionately represented in low-paying roles. There is the usual cohort of “male, pale and stale” that make it difficult for women to rise to leadership positions. The agriculture industry is perhaps worse off in this regard compared to other industries.
Although there are some amazing women who are rising to the challenge of helping to shape a different future. Fiona Simson, who lives in my area, is the first female president of the National Farmers Federation. Young women are becoming increasingly active and involved in agriculture - even some who haven't been brought up on farms (Zoe Carter, an Instagram influencer who started Young Aussie Farmers, is a good example).
The matter of childcare is a big one. There is a shortage of childcare in most rural towns, and for many living out of town, the logistics don’t stack up. This makes it difficult for women to pursue full-time careers.
How has this changed much in the last 5-10 years?
Not enough for my liking. Generational change is slow. But the momentum is growing. Technology has been a big enabler for women utilising their skills differently. Work no longer has to be performed “at the work place”, so women can work remotely, retailers don’t need a physical shopfront, and businesses are able to outsource certain functions. This has made a big difference in that women no longer need to entirely sacrifice a career in order to live rurally.
How can the issue of gender inequality be addressed?
The most important thing everyone can do for their communities is to get involved. All it takes is one community leader to recognise gender inequality and be determined to bring about change. There is such a broad range of education and skills amongst rural women in all our rural, regional and remote communities who are usually busy doing their thing and may lack the confidence or the time to put their hand up for leadership positions, but having a community leader who actively seeks out qualified women for certain roles makes a real difference.
What drove you to invest in FairVine Super?
I was immediately drawn to the idea of empowering women to gain financial independence and take their retirement plan seriously. A lot of focus has been on gender equality in the workplace, but FairVine Super fills the void post workplace. My family has invested in Fair Vine Super because we passionately believe in the philosophy and in the people behind it.