University of Galway has launched a new €3 million European project for women in agriculture

Louise Hickey

FLIARA- Female Led Innovation in Agriculture and Rural Areas is a €3 million project, involving Universities across Europe aimed at developing and strengthening policy and government framework involving women in agriculture. 

The project aims to improve the public’s understanding and recognition of women in the role. 

The project is being led at the University of Galway by Associate Professor Maura Farrell in the Rural Studies Centre.

Farrell explained that “traditionally, rural women’s employment opportunities and contribution to innovation has been overshadowed, and often suppressed, by a patriarchal ethos”.

The project will be three years long and aided by Horizon funding. This is the EU’s key funding programme for research and innovation.

In that time organisers hope to investigate women-led investigations on farms in wider rural areas, build on the power of social networks and identify visions for sustainable farming, along with realising what sustainable innovations are needed to aid such visions. 

The project already includes Universities and SME’s over ten EU countries. So far, Irish contributions include Teagasc and University of Galway. 

Problems with the engagement of women within the agricultural area have been highlighted many times. CSO figures from 2016 show that female farmers make up just 12% of the 137,000 family farms in Ireland.

The figures also show that only 3.8% of farms are registered with the Department of Agriculture in joint female/male names.

Despite these statistics, the CSO also highlights that over a quarter of those working on farms are women.

A survey by Macra na Feirme shows that only 5% of farmers were under the age of 35. However, for every female farmer under 35, there were 11 males.

On launching the project, President of University of Galway Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said “We give credit here to our colleagues in their work respecting the role of women in sustaining and maintaining rural life for the generations which have gone before us and how they are key to renewing it today and into the future”.

On the 26th of January, an official meeting will be held in Brussels to present plans for the project over the course of three years. 

Louise Hickey

Image credit: Aengus McMahon