Irish MEP supports ‘key role’ of women in agriculture

MOVES by the European Parliament to support and strengthen the contribution of women to Europe’s vital agriculture sector were welcomed by an Irish MEP

MOVES by the European Parliament to support and strengthen the contribution of women to Europe’s vital agriculture sector were welcomed by an Irish MEP

The “Women in Agriculture” report was backed by a significant majority of MEPs - a “timely” measure, said Irish MEP Marian Harkin, who worked actively on the report on behalf of her liberal ALDE group in the European Parliament. She added that “not many people realise that 42% of those working regularly in the agricultural sector are women, and three out of every ten holdings are managed by women”.

In particular, the Independent Sligo MEP, having consulted Irish farming groups and rural women’s associations, pushed for the report to recognise the “crucial need that women’s entrepreneurial skills are facilitated, and that across the board women are involved in decision-making at local and regional level in farm organisations and indeed all relevant bodies”.

Ms Harkin emphasised, however, that no real progress would be made towards women and families remaining in the countryside, and thereby making a vital contribution to achieving the objectives of “Europe 2020”, the EU’s growth strategy for the coming decade, without adequate services and facilities for everyday life in rural areas.

These will include improved healthcare and care services, education and leisure facilities, transport infrastructure and adequate broadband access.

“Such improvements are prerequisites not just for a better agricultural sector, but for a better life for all rural dwellers. “Not all services can be market oriented,” noted Harkin.

Finally, the Ireland Northwest MEP hailed as a “really positive step” the report’s insistence that there should be proper social insurance for women working in agriculture “so that their pensions and future are secured”.