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Editorial comment

Sunday 20th August saw England reach its first football World Cup final since 1966, with the country’s women’s team, the Lionesses, battling to take home the trophy. While the team gave their best efforts, it simply wasn’t to be for England, as the match saw Spain crowned World Cup champions.

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This year’s tournament reached record viewership figures,1 and an outpouring of support and appreciation for women’s football has been felt across the world. Against this backdrop, it is easy to overlook just how far the beautiful game has come over the years; for instance, the last time England were this close to World Cup victory, women were banned from playing the sport at FA-affiliated football grounds. The ban came at the turn of the 1920s, as Dick, Kerr Ladies F.C, a factory team from Preston, gained popularity to rival male football teams. The FA issued the ban, declaring: “The game of football is quite unsuitable for females and ought not to be encouraged.”2

Astoundingly, the ban stood for 50 years, having only been rescinded in 1970. Thankfully, women’s football has since had a significant resurgence; despite falling at the final hurdle, there is no doubt that the Lionesses have been a source of inspiration for girls across England, with the team proudly representing women in male-dominated industries, and rallying for equal opportunities within the sport. Off the pitch, the squad successfully campaigned for girls in England to receive equal access to school sport, resulting in government funding of around £600 million.3

The sporting world is not the only sector under pressure to address gender inequality. With women representing 43% of the world’s agricultural workforce, it is crucial to work towards abolishing gender-specific barriers in farming. National Geographic reports that women in this field are faced with gender-specific obstructions, such as lack of financing, training, appropriate working conditions and fair treatment, and discusses how gender bias in the economic system limits a woman’s access to credit; without proper financing, female farmers are unlikely to buy and use fertilizer, or utilise other advantageous farming tools.4

In terms of representation of women in the fertilizer sector, major producer, Yara International, has launched a successful diversity and inclusion agenda, as well as its ‘Women in Agronomy’ programme, which was developed to encourage more women to join the industry. The company has also published a book highlighting the careers of female influences in the workforce. Svein Tore Holsether, President and CEO of the company, said, “We can’t risk missing out on half the talent, half the knowledge, [and] half the experience. We need all hands on deck, we need all perspectives and we also need to reflect the markets in which we operate.”5

The message is clear – to ensure that women are heard, valued, and respected, from the football pitch to the farm and beyond.


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