IN CELEBRATION of International Women's Day on Friday March 8th, the Scottish Government's rural economy department has been publishing a series of blogs over the past week, highlighting the important and diverse role women play in driving and supporting Scotland's rural economy.

By Rebecca Dawes of Jane Craigie Marketing

I have a confession – ever since my early teens I have wanted to be Tom Cruise!! I want to soar through the skies in a fighter jet, doing twists and turns as he did in the film Top Gun. What I didn’t want to be was a women working in the agricultural and rural sector and yet it is was the environment I knew.

I grew up on a family beef, sheep and arable farm in England where we also ran a farm shop, butchery, tearooms and regular events and educational visits. Our purpose was to bring the consumer to the farm so they could see how and where their food was produced which in turn would encourage them to buy British. And it worked but with that feeling that agricultural wasn’t for me, I went off to do International Events for pharmaceutical clients travelling all across the world.

Less than a year in, I was handing in my notice. However much I thought I didn’t want to be involved, the reality was I did. But the world of agriculture and rural life offers so many different careers, you don’t have to put your wellies on and get dirty to play a key part in it (although I take any opportunity I can!)

I worked part time on food and drink festival developing my own skills away from the farm whilst remaining actively involved. In 2013 after two decades, we decided to sell the farm and return to Scotland where our family originates.

I joined the Scottish Association of Young Farmers’ Clubs as their Communications and Rural Affairs Manager before moving to my current role with Jane Craigie Marketing, an agency that specialises in the agricultural and rural sector. We support clients to tell their story, working with farmers and businesses across the UK. We also launched the Rural Youth Project, an initiative to look at the challenges and opportunities for young people in rural areas with the objective of reducing the number of under 30’s who migrate away.

My journey started with a desire to work as far away from the agricultural and rural sector as possible. I now find myself looking for opportunities to do more – I am a judge for the Scotland Lantra Learner of the Year Awards, Scottish Coordinator for LEAF Open Farm Sunday, a former Director of Scottish Rural Action and in less than three months’ time will be taking on a new voluntary role that will allow me to be involved in agriculture beyond UK waters.

For me been a women in the agricultural and rural sector has only been a disadvantage because of my own personal belief that I had nothing to contribute. How wrong was I. I don’t need to drive a tractor, calve a cow or combine a field of wheat to be part of the industry…..challenge your perception, look for a career that takes your interest and keep you mind open to opportunity because you never know where it might lead.