Warwick cattlewoman Kellie Smith.
Warwick cattlewoman Kellie Smith. Toni Somes

Women encouraged to play major part in rural communities

RURAL women are being encouraged to step out of their comfort zone and build networks to help grow their local communities, the president of the Queensland Rural, Regional and Remote Women's Network said on Tuesday.

Georgie Somerset was in Canberra for the national Rural Women's Network conference, talking about how women play an integral role in rural, remote and regional communities.

The South Burnett primary producer understands the importance of women in their communities.

"It's been really inspiring - there's been some great messages about rural women being the ones who bring about the change in their communities," she said.

"If they believe in something, then sticking by it and making it happen is what it's all about.

"To some people it might be about health and education, or regional telecommunications or just running a rural business."

Ms Somerset said women were largely the people helping to run regional communities.

"We heard this morning that not just rurally, but across the board, women make 90% of the purchasing decision - and that across finance, transport, households.

"When 90% of those decisions are being made by the women, it's clear we play a major role in our communities."

She said several speakers had inspired her to return home to the South Burnett with some inspirational ideas for the future.

"One of the speakers we had was Catherine Marriott, the runner-up of the RIRDC rural women of the year last year.

"She spoke about how changing people perceptions about agriculture should be done one conversation at a time.

"It's everyone's responsibility to have a conversation about these issues - not just speak to people, but actually engage."

Ms Somerset said she was a great believer that regional and remote areas gave women incredible opportunities.

"One of the important things is sometimes women might feel socially or intellectually isolated," she said.

"One of the things I'm talking about is building the networks around yourself - find like-minded women and go out and create your own networks.

"I think the take home is that when women connect face to face, to support and inspire each other, they can believe in the role they play - sometimes women doubt how effective and amazing they can be."

"It's important to recognise that we play a big role in our communities, and we are leading significant change in regional Australia."



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