Across the globe this Saturday 15 October, communities will be celebrating International Day of Rural Women. The Day was established eight years ago to honour rural women, who reportedly make up a quarter of the world’s population – it’s a day that asks the world to reflect on rural women who contribute to the majority of global food production, recognise their significance to society and the economy, and encourage improved working conditions.

It also serves to acknowledge the often unacknowledged women…. and we have a whole community right here in Australia who deserve similar recognition! Whether they are farming, building or driving trucks, Australia’s rural women are also a large contributor to our economy and often go unacknowledged.

So cheers to you Shelley in Kununurra, Megan in Blackwater, Sara in Port Hedland, and to the 498,000 other men and women working in Australia’s remote mining, construction and agricultural industries.

Living remotely comes with its challenges. I’ve worked in Middlemount and Blackwater in rural Queensland, and there’s no doubt we draw the short straw when it comes to some everyday living arrangements!

I’ve lost count of the number of clothes I’ve sent back from online shopping because I haven’t been able to try clothes on in a local store. We try to eat well but our fresh produce is either impossible to find or it’s three times the price metro dwellers pay. We can’t get to a bank to talk about loans or re-financing. We’re either living in a donga the size of most people’s bathrooms or we live in the nearby town and commute to our job sites, 60km from home… oh, and fuel is ~$1.5/L.

While much of this can be overlooked as a trivial annoyance, on a more serious note, when it comes to emergency situations, we’re hours from help. Friends of mine lost their precious fur baby when their dog was poisoned, and it was an eight hour round trip to get him to a vet. If he was able to get more immediate attention, the outcome could have been different. Likewise, when we’re sick or injured, it’s the IGA we turn to – not ideal when it’s serious matters for ourselves or our families.

There are many sacrifices we women make living remotely in the name of earning a living. So this week, if no other time during the year, I encourage you to pause and reflect on the amazing work you do and the sacrifices you make. We work hard. Let’s play hard too!

We may not have nightclubs but we generally have a pub and an IGA (aka department store!) Pick up a hair colour if you’ve been wanting a new look, grab some face masks and nail polish for a pamper session at home, buy those $45/kg sea scallops and make a beautiful pasta or pick up some (expensive!) fruit, juice and lemonade (with a stop off at the pub for spirits) to make cocktails!

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