Up-secured? Social security for women in rural areas »
Farms make a valuable contribution to the regional food supply. Good social and financial security is needed to ensure that living and working on farms remains attractive for young people. However, female farmers still receive a pension that is far below the poverty line after a busy working life. The project aims to encourage a joint dialogue on the topic of social security for women in agriculture and to work together with experts to develop new solutions for concrete improvements.*
Presentation of the project
Especially in times of crisis, such as corona or the climate crisis, it becomes clear how important a regional, sustainable food supply is. In order to secure the valuable work in this sector, attractive jobs in agriculture are needed so that more people decide to work and stay in agriculture again. However, many people in agriculture do not have sufficient social and financial security – women in particular are affected by this. At €823 per month (2022), the average old-age pension of female farmers is well below the poverty line. As a result, they are often heavily financially dependent on their husbands. The issue of social security is very far-reaching: What is the ownership structure of the farm? What are the financial risks in the event of a separation? Who makes major financial decisions on the farm? Caring for close relatives is also still mainly done by women – in addition to working on the farm. This can lead to a massive multiple burden.
In-depth interviews with women farmers were used as a first step to determine the extent to which the women themselves have already addressed the issue, what individual solutions they have been able to find for themselves and where there are obstacles to improvement. Through the discussions with the women farmers and experts, it is now possible to work out where internal hurdles exist, but also where political changes are necessary so that all those working on the farm can be well protected. In addition, best practice examples are to be identified that can serve as a guideline for other farms.
Another fundamental aspect of the project is the dialogue between female farmers in Salzburg’s Pongau and Lungau regions in order to raise awareness of the relevance of the topic. In our financial education workshops for female farmers, we encourage open discussions among the participants and provide an important impetus to gain more clarity about one’s own situation and thus create good security in all phases of life. The results can also serve as a basis for decision-making (e.g. Do I want to live and work on the land and in agriculture?).
Finally, the project also aims to draw public attention to the low pensions of female farmers. The issue of social security is to be discussed as an issue for society as a whole, as it is also set out in various international goals and strategies (e.g. UNDROP, Agenda 2030 sustainability goals).
Our project in the Lungau and Pongau regions was financed by LEADER. The lively exchange with LEADER Lebens.Wert Pongau-Tennengau helped us to concretise the project and was also a valuable help in implementing the project correctly as a LEADER project. The project is being run in cooperation with the LEADER Biosphäre Lungau region in order to reach a larger target audience and recognise similarities and/or differences in the regions.
Emblematic character of the project
Good social security is an important basis for deciding to stay on the land and enter agriculture. Social security for women in particular plays an important role in the LES. Above all, we want to keep young women in the region.
The situation of Austrian women farmers in Austria has been surveyed every 10 years since 1976. The latest final report dates from March 2017 and was commissioned by ARGE Bäuerinnen and compiled by KeyQUEST Marktforschung in collaboration with the Federal Institute of Agricultural Economics. Financial and social security was not covered in the report. Furthermore, at the start of the project, no similar projects could be found that dealt with the financial situation of women farmers and offered educational programmes in this area. The carefully conducted interviews and the exchange with each other in protected spaces can make it easier for women farmers to describe their very personal experiences. With creativity and imagination, new ideas and projects should be taken up, developed and realised for the regions. Best-practice examples will be identified that can be transferred to other farms and other regions.
Many young people, especially women, are migrating from rural regions to cities, where they have easier access to well-paid work with adequate social security. Nevertheless, farms can offer valuable living space and jobs if the basic requirements are met. Attractive jobs in agriculture also ensure a regional supply of high-quality food in the long term.
A decisive factor in improving the financial situation of women farmers is sound financial education, where women can find out about their options. The findings of this project and the resulting financial education workshops for women farmers can also be applied and implemented in other LEADER regions.
ÖBV Salzburg – Via Campesina Austria – Berg- und Kleinbäuer_innen Vereinigung
LEADER Lebens.Wert Pongau-Tennengau