Lisiane Rocha Czech has worked in the dairy industry since 1992. Before that, she raised beef cattle on the property acquired by her father in 1974, becoming the fourth generation working in agriculture since her grandfather emigrated from Poland to the state of Paraná in southern Brazil. Just like her father, she and her two brothers have an Agronomic Engineering degree—this tradition has also influenced her 24-year-old son, who graduated and works in the area.
During her academic training, she already noticed the gender difference and the challenges that were to come. “In college, we were four women in a class of 40 students. When I graduated and moved to Teixeira Soares [the town near the family’s rural property], I was the only female agronomist in town.” For her, her firm posture and interest in knowledge, in addition to her childhood on the farm, contributed to a successful career.
As Lisiane explains, she has been close to the rural union in Teixeira Soares since the very beginning. “Our property is all focused on training in technical and management areas. Since the first course I took on dairy cattle management, we have formed a group of producers,” she says.
Today, Lisiane has been president of the city’s rural union for 14 years. At first, women’s presence was rare, a reality that has been changing over the years. “I have been working with the syndicate for almost 20 years. I can say that I have a great openness, and the contact with other women, which has grown a lot since then, is part of this history.”
Among her achievements, the most recent one has made a difference to increase even more the female contingent in the union, as well as in the courses and training offered by the National Rural Apprenticeship Service
(SENAR) system. Since 2021, she has been the coordinator of the Federation of Agriculture of the State of Paraná (FAEP)’s State Women’s Commission, formed that year intending to strengthen communication among women in the state’s agricultural and livestock industry. “One of our goals is to make women feel that they are part of the rural environment. One woman can inspire another to form a great women’s organization,” she explains.
According to Lisiane, 2021 was a year of intense work, with a focus on mobilizing rural unions to create commissions and train local coordinators. The groups are organized within the unions, which contributes to enhancing the presence of female leaders in the field, bringing more women into the union system.
“We have several positive feedbacks. The movement has grown a lot since last year. We see women joining and feeling more comfortable within the system. They see the unions getting organized and want to take part,” says Lisiane.
Usually, the first step comes from women who are already close to the rural unions or who have some familiarity with its presidents and board members. They gather in a small group, make the first presentation to the union, and then began the contact other groups through the regional coordinators. “We are already identifying and receiving indications of women with leadership profiles. Most of the time we manage to finish the first meeting with a local group formed, with a minimum number of women mobilized and coordinating,” says Lisiane.
For her, it is rewarding to work in the state commission. The groups have access to training and can organize themselves around common causes. “We want to increase female representation in the field. To this end, we are offering personal and professional training to women, so that they can acquire more self-knowledge, and develop better relationships with suppliers, clients, and collaborators,” she explains.
So far in 2022, 16 meetings were held and two local commissions were formalized, besides others that are in the process of doing so. Currently, there are 19 local women’s commissions (Alvorada do Sul, Campo Mourão, Cascavel, Castro, Cianorte, Colorado, Faxinal, Guarapuava, Ipiranga, Juranda, Maringá, Palotina, Pitanga, Realeza, Rondon, Tapejara, Teixeira Soares, Toledo, and Uraí), 12 of which already existed before the creation of the State Commission.
Other actions that are part of FAEP’s State Women’s Commission planning for 2022 include the presence of regional coordinators at the 7th National Congress of Agribusiness Women, which will be held in São Paulo. “We wish that local committees will thrive and grow, really impacting our participation in the Paraná and national agribusiness. We already have some women being invited to board meetings, and also feeling more confident to make their voices heard,” she concludes.