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Leader seminar "Challenges and methodology of transnational Cooperation"
2-6 April 1997, Dieulefit (Drôme), France
The AURORA project
The AURORA project is run by a transnational partnership representing rural women from areas in Scotland, Austria, France and Finland. Their aim is to develop innovative approaches to improve the active economic participation of women in traditional rural cultures. The 4 partners each set up a development project whose objective at the local level is to enable women to create their own job.
The project has obtained funding from NOW, and the transnational dimension consists in exchanging methodologies, know-how and good practices. The partners meet twice a year to exchange ideas on these various points.
The key elements
. The partners meet twice a year and each time are hosted by a different area
The 4 areas concerned are all located in Objective 1 or 5b areas and therefore share certain difficulties in development. The geographical contexts are very different (ranging from Eastern Finland to the Western Isles of Scotland), but most are located in Northern Europe.
The partners share the conviction that rural women have not always gained recognition of their role in the economy and in local society and that actions must be undertaken to offset this trend.
Point of departure
At the end of February 1996, two European consultants took the initiative of organising a meeting in Brussels and inviting their clients and contacts in order to discuss projects that could be presented in the framework of the new EMPLOYMENT and ADAPT programmes. A series of workshops were organised on themes corresponding to the priorities of these programmes: green tourism, rural women, young people in difficulty, unemployed people, the disabled.
It was on this occasion that a group of development agents met and decided to work together on a project devoted to women in the countryside. They shared the conviction that rural women encounter specific difficulties (traditional vision of the role of women, low representation in decision-making bodies, high unemployment, etc.) and that specific actions must be devoted to them.
This opportunity of meeting one another face to face for a pre-organised meeting was a crucial factor for the development of this transnational project, especially since professional coordinators helped the participants to determine their common objectives.
In the beginning, the partners planned to introduce their project in the framework of LEADER II, since they were all from rural areas listed as Objective 1 or 5b and shared the concern of having an area-based approached. However, the delays in implementing LEADER prompted the 7 original partners to introduce a proposal in the framework of the EMPLOYMENT-NOW programme.
All were not selected for different reasons (political change at the local level, impossibility of finding public co-funding at the local level, non-selection at the national level). Only three of the original partners were able to meet again at the second planning meeting that was held in September 1995 to finalise their action plan. This second meeting was again coordinated by professionals, and the partners decided to contract out the implementation of the transnational dimension of their project to this consultancy firm.
They also established a written cooperation protocol between them that stipulated in particular that the partnership would convene twice a year, each time in the area of a different partner.
The partners today have all started up their project at the local level:
In Creuse (Limousin, France), training courses have been organised to help women in difficulty develop their own initiatives for employment, in particular via teleworking. The aim is to enable these women to gain a certain economic autonomy.
In the Steyr and Enns valleys in Austria, a training programme has been set up to help women establish new forms of employment in the area of family services, green tourism and teleworking. Child care is provided, and the women participants are paid for the entire period of their training. The women are also assisted in the creation of their own job.
On the Hebrides islands (Scotland, Great Britain), the women participants obtained a formal qualification in business creation. The objective is to start up 25 new businesses belonging to rural women and run by them. Here too, child care is available.
An additional partner joined the partnership at the end of 1996: a rural area in Finland whose partners were not selected in the context of the NOW project. It is still too early to have details on their local action.
At the transnational level, the partners meet on a regular basis to discuss their projects, the difficulties encountered, the solutions found. They have agreed to a common system of monitoring and evaluation. They plan to produce together a training module and a tool box for the creation of jobs for rural women.
As for the difficulties encountered, problems have been created by the slowness in paying Community funding. Those that are not part of a larger structure (the Hebrides islands are, for example, a LEADER area) often have cash flow difficulties that can harm the entire project.
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