The European network of Women from Rural Areas (ENWRA) held its second meeting in Cyprus first meeting in Spain 5 – 9 February 2014.
ENWRA is a partnership between lead organisations in Cyprus, Germany, Hungary, Spain, Poland, Turkey and the UK.
Heather McLaughlin, The Rural centre, Europe Direct NI is the co-ordinator from Northern Ireland and over the next two years will work with the partner organisations throughout Europe and with rural women’s groups in this region to share best practice.
Each partner identified the key issues that women are facing in their region and shared information and experiences. For example in N Ireland, women are isolated in rural areas and there is a need for support and training opportunities for them as most of the training offered to women entrepreneurs takes place is towns and cities which are difficult to get to and costly. There are some governmental and European initiatives that support the entrepreneurship of women in rural areas. Women tend to move to live in larger cities when they are young but return to the rural areas life return to their home town or a village to raise families. Many women set up their own business using their skills to create employment for themselves that fits around family life. This entrepreneurship is a source of innovation to the local community. In Poland, there was an issue where women find it difficult to return to work after they give birth because there is limited infrastructure in rural areas for childcare and it is costly to leave your child in a kindergarten as salaries are very low. In addition, the mentality of women is also another factor since they believe that after birth they should dedicate themselves mainly to childcare and raising their familes. In Cyprus there are also several initiatives; but sometimes are more general in nature. For example, there are many day centers for the elderly where they can spent their time constructively which is mixed, but the majority is usually women. Moreover, there are programs such as Women’s entrepreneurship which funds with 50% the start up of businesses of women. In Hungary, there are also similar projects of entrepreneurship where they help women to set up their own company, while it covers some basic set up costs many of the women have to self finance using family support. In Hungary, most of the problems regarding maternity leave, day centers, opportunities and obstacles are similar as in the rest of the countries. The German partner gave information about the situation of women in Germany and the support that exists to help them to set up businesses based around their skills. The same issues of lack of affordable childcare existed to support women either return to work or set up their own business. it is difficult to find work that is flexible to fit around family responsibilities which is generally the role of the women in the family.
The meeting included field visit in the rural areas of Paphos, where participants had the opportunity to see women running their own enterprises. Visits began at the Museum of Evagoras Pallikarides in Tsada, a national hero and to the Museum of Folk Art and Tradition in Kallepeia. The group then visited Mrs. Christallas workshop in Lemona Village where they saw her make traditional Halloumi cheese as well as taste it. The next visit was to an Equestrian Club, where Mrs. Marlen in Amageti manages her horse farm. Marlen is from Canada and as a foreign woman in Cyprus she managed to create her own business. The working visit ended in Lemona, at the winery Tsaggaridou where a family Cypriot company passed from the father to the children, Lukia and Angelos who keep the family tradition alive. The participants were given a tour in the winery and they cooked for us a Barbeque and distinguished Cypriot mezes; while we tasted Cypriot wines.
The project is funded through Grundgtvig Life Long Learning Programme and the aim of the partnership is to share the experiences of women across these regions to look at the problems they face and how to overcome them.
This project is funded under the Lifelong learning Programme. Disclaimer:“ This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This communication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.rus