The research team from MENDELU will analyze the role of women in rural life

28. 2. 2023

Mendel University in Brno is part of a European project that will focus on the empowerment of women in agriculture and rural life in ten countries. The three-year Horizon project, funded by the European Commission, will combine different research methods. It will actively involve women farmers and rural entrepreneurs. It will identify visions for a sustainable future and the innovations needed to realise these visions, not only on farms but also in the countryside as a whole. The project is led by the University of Galway, Ireland. The project involves universities, SMEs and other experts from ten European Union countries.

FLIARA (Female Led Innovation in Agriculture and Rural Areas) will help raise awareness of the role of women in a more sustainable rural future. It will also help to develop more effective policy and governance frameworks through which women living and working in rural areas can actively contribute to a more sustainable future. “We respect and value the role of generations of women ancestors who have played a key role in sustaining rural life, and we know that the role of women is crucial for the present and the future,” said Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, Rector of the University of Galway.

MENDELU is one of the partner institutions involved in the overall project. Milada Št’astná’s team will be involved as a priority in addressing the role of women in innovation needed for sustainable agriculture and rural areas. “We are the only representative of countries where there has been almost complete collectivisation and nationalisation of agriculture in the past, which has undoubtedly had an impact on the social environment of rural areas, including the status of women. Our particularity is the significant share of large companies, while in other partner countries the emphasis is more on family farms,” Milada Št’astná from the Institute of Applied and Landscape Ecology of the Faculty of Agronomy explained the role of MENDELU. The aim of the Czech research team is to apply the experience gained to local conditions.

In order to overcome the challenges of the European countryside and exploit its full potential, all individuals and communities need to participate in rural innovation. Traditionally, rural women’s employment opportunities and their contribution to innovation have been overshadowed and suppressed by a patriarchal ethos,” said Laura Farrell of Galway University, who is leading the project.

Women in the Czech Republic have lower incomes than men and hold fewer senior management positions in companies. “But the question is what is causing this – how much of it is the persistence of the patriarchal model in a more conservative rural environment, how much is the lower proportion of career-oriented women, and how much may be related to issues associated with motherhood, including issues of broken families and single motherhood. On the other hand, recruiters are beginning to agree that mixed work teams, including young people and seniors, men and women, are optimal,” Št’astná said. According to her, the contribution of women is specific due to the combination of social and economic needs of women, which can be realised in this environment by supporting their potential and innovation.

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