Summary

Icon created for and displayed at the Women on Farms Gathering, Numurkah 1992.

The organising committee for Numrukah selected an irrigation shovel as the icon for their Gathering to symbolize the importance of water and dairying in the Goulburn Region. A cowpat was added in response to the speech by the Minister of Agriculture who said that the women had to decide whether they were going to be farmers or feminists, they couldn't be both.

'We had already organised the cow pat, but when the then Minister for Agriculture, Ian Baker (ALP) made his speech on the Saturday morning, it seemed all the more relevant. He said we had to decide whether we were going to be farmers or feminists. We couldn't be both. Like the Madonna/Whore syndrome! For the most part he waffled on in a mildly pleasant manner but that statement stuck with us and when we handed over the shovel and cow pat, we said "and this is in relation to Ian Baker's speech." What was interesting was that what he was saying - that we either focused on agriculture or advancing women's issues - was prophetic. It crystallised what the general rural women's movement was up against as it grew and grew in the next few years. It was the issue that women constantly butted their heads against, "are you farmers, or are you feminists?" Quote from Sharon O'Brien, member of the Numurkah Gathering Organising Committee.

The closing of each Gathering and the anticipation of the next is celebrated with a formal 'baton changing' ritual, where a symbolic 'icon' is handed over from one organising committee to the next. Each item represents a story or message of some of the key themes and issues, which have shaped the meaning and experience of these women's rural identity.

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