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Parliamentary questions
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17 August 2010
Answer given by Mr Cioloş on behalf of the Commission
Question reference: E-4996/2010

1. EU rural development policy addresses gender equality at every stage of the policy process.

Firstly, the consideration of the particular needs of women in rural areas is requested in the Community Strategic Guidelines for Rural Development. For the implementation of the measures under Axis 3 (Improving the quality of life in rural areas and encouraging diversification of the rural economy), Member States have to address this issue in their national strategy and their rural development programmes. The guidelines mention as a key action the encouragement of the entry of women into the labour market. The issue is furthermore addressed by the rural development Regulation, which specifies that ‘Member States and the Commission shall promote equality between men and women and shall ensure that any discrimination based on sex (…) is prevented during the various stages of programme implementation’(1). In order to facilitate the assessment of the situation in Member States and the progress on gender mainstreaming, gender specific indicators for a number of measures are provided by Member States in their annual progress reports.

According to their strategic approach and needs, and based on a (SWOT) analysis, Member States can give women special support in view of well identified specific needs, e.g. measures for ‘setting up of young farmers’, ‘support for the creation and development of micro-enterprises’ which aims at improving the employment situation of rural women through entrepreneurship or financial engineering actions to help women overcome specific obstacles for accessing credit. The possibility of women in rural areas to exercise a professional activity is often hampered by the lack of social facilities, like day care centres for children or elder people. Under the measure ‘basic services’ such facilities can be supported. Concerning the integration of women in decision making processes the Leader approach contributes to the equality between men and women.

The European Network for Rural Development and its constituent national networks can be used to identify and exchange further examples of measures / schemes / local strategies or individual projects promoting equal opportunities or targeting specifically women.

Therefore, there are no reasons to believe that the current EAFRD Regulation hampers the implementation of positive action in favour of women.

2. Under the previous programming period 2000‑06, the Leader+ Community Initiative for rural development exhibited two main avenues towards gender equity: firstly that of positive discrimination, explicitly addressing women as a priority target group. Secondly, the gender-sensitive design of the approach and the development strategies (e.g. through a better design of training and education measures). The synthesis of mid‑term evaluations of Leader+ programmes can be found at the following link:


(1)Article 8 of Council Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005 of 20 September 2005 on support for rural development by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), O J L 277, 21.10.2005.

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