Dairy Women Ireland (DWI), a group of women actively farming in the dairy industry, has recently held its first meeting seeking better connection and empowerment of females in the sector.

The mission of the group is to establish a network to provide support and education for women to drive change in their own circumstances, regardless of factors such as age.

The first meeting of the group kicked off in the home of dairy farmer Anne Marie Doheny, a lecturer at Gurteen College, who is farming with her husband Brian in Co. Kilkenny.

“DWI is working to establish a national network for women in the dairy industry to access events, training and support specific to their farming needs, at local and regional level.

“This first networking event was an opportunity to better understand what supports, systems and education requirements the dairy women of Ireland want and need,” the group said.

Teagasc dairy specialist, Martina Gormley presented a skills seminar on lean dairy management and how to make simple but effective changes on farms.

MEP Maria Walsh also joined the meeting, presenting her thoughts on gender equality, and the importance of changing attitudes towards a more inclusive place for women on farms and in the industry.

Gender equality

“I felt there was such a powerful sense of change in that room – these women are coming together to make a real impact on the females of the dairy industry in Ireland,” the MEP said.

DWI committee and guest speakers. Image source: Dairy Women Ireland (DWI)

The steering committee of DWI, which is influenced and advised by the New Zealand Dairy Women’s Network, was brought together by Lynaire Ryan and Paidi Kelly via their work in Macra Agricultural Skillnet courses.

“[We] realised that there is a hunger among women on Irish dairy farms to be better connected, and a need for access to learning and network opportunities that are more “female focused” than what is currently available,” the group said.

Co-chair of DWI, Ciara Lynch said the group has been working for over a year and was thrilled about the first meeting.

Between surveys and facilitated group discussions, DWI plans to announce further events and opportunities in the coming months.

“Magic happens when a determined group of women get together and myself and co-chair Monica Gorman are so excited to see where this leads us,” DWI co-chair Ciara Lynch said.