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Women, equal opportunities and rural development


Helga Konrad, the Austrian Federal Minister for Women's Affairs

document type: article
keywords: women, equal opportunities
source: LEADER Magazine
last update: 5/96

"Without women, there can be no development."
  • How would you describe the situation of women in Austria? What, for instance, are the specific problems encountered by women living in rural areas?
In Austria, women make up 51.6% of the total population. 62.7% of women work outside the home. Yet, their income only amounts to 70-77% of men's income. On average, an Austrian women has one or two children and in general, the household duties are left to her, even if she has a job. This is one of the main problems - family and household responsibilities are often an obstacle to financial independence. In addition, the inadequate number of child care facilities make it difficult for women to work outside the home, and even when they do, this lack of facilities constitutes an obstacle to career advancement. Male dominated power structures, prejudices, etc. have, up until now, often hindered women's careers. Legislation passed in 1993 in favour of women and equal opportunities should result in equal employment opportunities among the sexes, at least in the public sector.

The number of women active in politics is only rising slowly, and is an uphill battle: a quarter of the seats in the Austrian parliament are currently held by women.

The problems faced by women living in rural areas can be summarised as follows: low income, lack of employment opportunities and lack of security.

  • Are there specific measures in place to cater for women living in rural areas?
In certain areas, rural women have set up associations to promote their interests. On the eve of the "World Conference on Women" in 1995, women farmers got together at a seminar entitled "Bread and Roses". The seminar provided a forum for women to discuss their specific problems. In Beijing, a workshop on the situation of women living in border areas was also organised: in addition to facilitating discussions and sharing of information , a "projects exchange" was also proposed. The increase in the number of child care facilities will bring long-term benefits enabling women in rural areas to take up employment.

In the framework of the major employment initiative that will be launched next year, specific projects for women in rural areas should be set up and funded. In the case of rural women, factors such as greater mobility and less isolation should, in particular, be emphasised.

  • What contribution can women make to rural development?
Without women, there can be no development. Their contribution is indispensable if we want to successfully implement consistent rural development policies, which will cater for their specific needs and expectations of women in rural areas, and take their views into account.

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