13 October 2000

Churches set for

a special Sunday

DOZENS of churches are finalising preparations to mark the role of women in the countryside. World Rural Womens Day will be celebrated this Sunday (Oct 15) amid claims that the general public believes farm women are more likely to be baking cakes rather than running a business.

A survey conducted for the NFU shows more than half of those asked still picture the farmers wife as rosy-cheeked, one-third saw her as plump and 79% preoccupied with baking cakes.

This, says the union, is a far cry from reality. Statistics show nearly half have a key role in managing the farm business, 65% are partners in the agriculture operation and more than one-third are responsible for new farm enterprises.

Desperate belief

Patricia Stanley, one of only two women on the NFU council, said: "The public desperately wants to believe everything is cosy in the countryside. The harsh reality is that so much has changed already."

The Womens Food and Farming Union is holding a series of seminars highlighting opportunities for rural women. Helen Brown, WFU national co-ordinator, said: "It is becoming more and more obvious that women are often the driving force behind the farm business."