A new study published by the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, reinforces the commitment given to support women in rural areas. The 2021 study brings forward data that can help policy-makers plan the needed interventions. The first study of its kind in the country was published in 2011. A decade later the government continues to make progress. During the launch event, the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Luis Planas, highlighted that women and youth are priorities for the government, alongside support for innovation, digitalisation, connectivity and irrigation.
This study has been carried out on a representative sample of the population living in rural areas, aged between 20 and 64 years, following the same methodology that was used in 2011 to obtain comparable data. The document presents five relevant aspects for which information was collected: sociodemographic situation of rural areas, labour market, uses of time, perception of the quality of life in rural areas, and the stereotypes and gender roles in rural society.
The main conclusions drawn from the study are presented hereunder:
- Demographic imbalances —masculinization, ageing, low birth rates and female rural exodus— aggravated compared to a decade ago, endangering the social sustainability of rural areas. Measures are necessary to reduce the exodus of the rural population and revitalise rural areas.
- The access to and position of women in the labour market continues to show inequalities, although it should be noted that the gap between genders seem to have shortened compared to data collected a decade ago. It is necessary to reduce labour inequalities that persist in rural areas so that women can develop their professional careers in equality of conditions.
- The analysis of the use of time between the genders continues to reflect a major presence of women in the private sphere and the tasks that emerge from it, while men have greater relevance in the public sphere. Despite this, in some respects differences between genders have visibly diminished in the last decade, such as in the time dedicated to leisure. In order to have a balanced society, actions are needed to raise awareness of co-responsibility, while encouraging women’s participation in the public sphere.
- The supply and availability of public services to promote well-being of the rural population must be adapted to their needs, through measures that help to tackle exiting gender inequalities.
- Awareness-raising measures are essential to break gender stereotypes and roles that cause inequalities between women and men. The social sustainability of rural areas depends on the expectation that society can reconfigure itself, based on equality of opportunities between women and men as the basis of the system.
Overall, the study finds that some aspects have seen improvements compared to data presented in the first study published in 2011. Among them, it is worth highlighting the greater incorporation of women into the workplace, the greater openness of the younger rural population in relation to gender roles and stereotypes, as well as the significantly reduced gap between women and men in relation to the time dedicated to leisure and free time.
Nonetheless, some other aspects such as the demographic imbalances (ageing, masculinisation of rural areas, lower birth rates, etc.) have greatly worsened over the past decade. In addition, the burden of homecare and other care responsibilities have fallen even more on women. There is still more to do in order to advance the progress of gender equality in rural areas.
Read the full report and background information available here.
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