Women make a difference to the EU farming sector – Copa and Cogeca claim on International Women’s Day

On International Rural Womens Day, Copa and Cogeca underlined that women play a crucial role in European farming sector – representing over 35% of the EU agricultural labour force.

But in order to maximise their potential, Copa-Cogeca Secretary General Pekka Pesonen insisted that measures must be taken to improve their situation and status at all levels of agricultural operations.

Highlighting key actions, Mr Pesonen said “Education and training needs to be improved as well as access to child care facilities. This can be encouraged under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Existing strategies on social security for women working in agriculture (as farmers, agricultural business managers, elected cooperative board members, farm workers, seasonal workers, etc.) also have to be reviewed, focusing on the country-specific situation concerning property rights and tax laws”.

With women representing over 35% of the EU agricultural labour force, female entrepreneurism in agriculture has expanded over the years and their status is better recognised. This strengthens their position both socially and economically and helps make agriculture a more dynamic and innovative sector. Despite this, there is still a lot of room for improvement > 43% of unpaid workers in agriculture are still women, 26% of which are farm owners.

Decision-makers must consequently ensure that the work of women farmers is properly valued and recognised from both a social and economic point of view. Seeing their work as a voluntary service, which is still the case in some Member States, is something which must be reviewed. Without receiving social insurance, their state of invisibility will simply be prolonged, particularly for those that are not farm owners.

To help recognise their contribution to rural areas, Copa presents an Innovation Prize for Women Farmers every two years to highlight areas where women have shown their expertise in being innovative and underline the activities and benefits that women can bring to agriculture. It also aims to stimulate adoption of further innovative, competitive practices.

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