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Minister marks World Rural Women's Day

15 October, 2008

Sinn Féin Minister Michelle Gildernew MP MLA has recognised the contribution women make to the economy, community and rural life on World Rural Women's Day.

World Rural Women's Day provides recognition and support for the multiple roles of rural women who make up more than a quarter of the world population. From the school run to calving, from running a farm based business to looking after family members, women are increasingly at the centre of life in rural areas.

The Minister said:

"The vital contribution that rural women make to society can often go unnoticed. World Rural Women's Day gives us the opportunity to stop and think about the crucial role that women play in rural life. It allows us to recognise and to show our support for the multiple roles played by rural women, as family members and as farmers and entrepreneurs.

"Many women are also primary carers of young children and our ageing population also brings further pressures as they become carers of elderly relatives. These are vital support roles for rural families and are all the more important because of the lack of facilities and services in rural communities."

Last year the Minister took the first step towards more accessible childcare for rural families by commissioning a Rural Childcare Stakeholders' Group to take a fresh look at the question of childcare in rural areas. The group presented the Minister with a report in April 2008 that identifies the main factors that affect access to childcare in rural areas and makes recommendations on how current and future provision can be improved.

The Minister added:

"Childcare is important to me as a working mother and I believe in fully supporting women in rural communities by providing access to affordable childcare. This will enable women to take up training and employment opportunities and participate more fully in community life. I will continue to press the need for childcare through the Ministerial Sub Committee on Children and Young People and will be bringing forward a specific rural childcare programme based on the recommendations in the stakeholders' report."

The Minister concluded:

"It is also my wish to provide ongoing opportunities for rural women to build on their already huge contribution to rural society. The new Rural Development Programme aims to contribute to the development of thriving and sustainable rural communities. Together with others such as the Rural Women's Network, I have encouraged women to continue to play their part in this programme and to take up the opportunities provided to develop new skills and businesses and diversify into new enterprises."

The Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 is funded under the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).

Note to Editors

  1. The idea of a World Rural Women's Day to be devoted each year to honour rural women began at a UN Conference for Women in Beijing in September 1995. The International Federation of Agricultural Producers (IFAP), Associated Country Women of the World (ACWW), Network of African Rural Women Associations (NARWA), and the Women's World Summit Foundation (WWSF) were the main proponents of the day. Because of the key role women play in food production and food security, it was decided that the World Rural Women's Day should fall on 15 October - the day before the World Food Day.
  2. The Rural Childcare Stakeholders' Group was a short-term advisory group facilitated by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD).
  3. The Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 was approved by the European Commission on 24 July 2007.

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