Last week was International Rural Women Day and in the CCRI we posted the first in a short series of blogs from the ‘Women in CCRI’ by way of an acknowledgement of the day. Julie Urquhart provided an overview of her journey into academia, an area often dominated by men. Within CCRI we have an excellent gender balance and this week we will hear from Katarina Kubinakova who joined the CCRI in 2008. Prior to this, she was deputy director and programme manager for a nationwide NGO – VOKA, the Rural Organisation for Community Activities in Slovakia. With this experience, Katarina has been extensively involved with programmes/projects that focused on rural development, predominantly on building capacities and facilitating processes in respect of establishing Local Action Groups (LEADER method of delivering Rural Development Programme funds at a local level). Naturally Katarina chose to discuss the role of women in relation to this, and how intrinsic they are to the success of projects.
As October 15th was International Rural Women day and the CCRI are featuring a number of their female team, I would like to highlight the significant role women play in developing their communities, shaping local development strategies and taking leading roles in implementing projects for the benefit of the areas where they living.
Despite the fact that in recent years the role of women and specifically gender balance in rural development has been the focus of a number of research studies, the role of women and their contribution is still often overlooked and much more needs to be done to address it than just including gender indicators into rural development programmes .
Throughout my career in academia as well as previously working for a nation-wide NGO focusing on rural issues, I came across many inspiring rural women that have changed their communities for the better. They have been the real driving force in respect of grassroots development. In Slovakia women have been in the forefront of rural development and played vital role in roll out of LEADER.
On the other hand, during the last three years I have been involved in a number of local Gloucestershire based evaluation projects. Interestingly women really dominated the local scene, with more than 95% of the projects being led and managed by women. There certainly has been the ‘we can do it’ notion and as one project champion noted “we are the doers, the ones that actually do things.”
As a powerful decision-making force, women are often well acquainted with the positives and negatives of their community, and may be in a good position to analyse how best to improve the wider society. In general, women may be likely to consider community development as a holistic process, in which the goal is the improvement of society for everyone. While these tendencies are far from universal, the focus should be on increasing, supporting and more widely recognising the role of women in rural community development as their contribution to improving the welfare and livelihoods of people living in rural areas is irreplaceable.
For those that are interested, I have provided a number of references below, to some key pieces of research that I have found invaluable when conducting work here in the CCRI. I hope that you find them as interesting and inspirational as I have!
Oedl-Wieser, T. (2015). “Gender equality: a core dimension in Rural Development Programmes in Austria?” Gender, Place & Culture 22(5): 685-699.
Shortall, S. and B. Bock (2015). “Introduction: rural women in Europe: the impact of place and culture on gender mainstreaming the European Rural Development Programme.” Gender, Place & Culture 22(5): 662-669.
Sally Shortall (2015) Gender mainstreaming and the Common Agricultural Policy, Gender, Place & Culture, 22:5, 717-730
Majda ČerniČ IsteniČ (2015) Do rural development programmes promote gender equality on farms? The case of Slovenia, Gender, Place & Culture, 22:5, 670-684
Pini, B., et al. (2015). Feminisms and Ruralities, Lexington Books.