RECOMMENDATION 1321 (1997)1 on improving the
situation of women in rural society
1. The Assembly refers to its Recommendation 1296 (1996) on a European
Charter for Rural Areas and to Recommendation 1269 (1995) on achieving real progress in
womens rights as from 1995, as well as to the World Summit on Social Development
(Copenhagen, 9-13 March 1995) and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action adopted
by the 4th World Conference on Women (Beijing, 4-15 September 1995).
2. Society in general, and even rural women themselves, have greatly
undervalued and often completely ignored the role of women in maintaining and developing
the living countryside with its rich and diversified heritage and traditions.
3. Women in rural society and especially in farming have always been an
"invisible work force". Too little has been done to fully recognise womens
role on farms and in rural communities - legally, economically, technologically and in
4. A full recognition of womens role in rural development would
greatly contribute to rural prosperity and would, in particular, help sustainable rural
development in the poorer countries and regions of the world.
5. Womens work of raising children and of running a (rural)
household should be fully recognised as having merit and as qualification for other jobs,
and should be taken into account in statistics. It should be remunerated.
6. To strengthen the family and the rural household, parents should,
during their childrens pre-school years, have a free choice between placing their
children in nurseries or receiving a monthly sum of money per child corresponding to the
cost of keeping a child in a public nursery scheme.
7. Policies attracting women and young girls to stay in the countryside
must be encouraged since those policies which lead to their leaving will eventually result
in a total abandonment of rural areas.
8. The situation of women in rural regions in the European economies in
transition is a particularly grave problem because of the dismantling of the former social
and economic structures.
9. Consequently, the Assembly recommends that the Committee of
i. include in its intergovernmental work programme specific activities
of relevance to rural women;
ii. initiate this work by convening a conference to analyse the
situation of women in rural areas, inviting representatives of organisations with specific
interest and knowledge in this field, with a view to identifying priority areas where
positive action is needed. The Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress of Local and
Regional Authorities of Europe should be associated with this work;
iii. call on member governments, governments of countries having special
guest or observer status with the Assembly, the European Union, the Organisation for
Economic Co-operation and Development and the United Nations to:
A. Improve statistical data and information
i. improve the collection, analysis and dissemination of data,
distinguishing by sex and place of residence for both west European countries and the
central and east European countries, within the framework of mainstream statistical
information systems (such as Eurostat);
ii. develop new (and comparable) concepts, definitions and standards of
economic indicators in order to accord greater visibility to, and promote greater
understanding of, the relative economic contributions of women and men through paid and
unpaid work in both the formal and informal sectors of rural economies;
iii. provide gender training programmes for statisticians and other
users and producers of statistics, with a special emphasis on the nature and context of
rural womens activities (different housekeeping activities, childcare, agricultural
iv. carry out research to identify the ways in which economic, political
and social reforms differentially affect various segments of the population (based on
place of residence, gender, age, economic status, race, ethnicity, etc.);
v. promote participatory research and data collection methodologies in
rural areas in order to complete the gaps and weaknesses in statistical records.
B. Increase womens participation in decision making
i. create an environment that encourages rural womens increased
participation in decision-making fora through the provision of childcare facilities at
meetings and holding meetings at hours compatible with family schedules;
ii. develop and promote personal-skills training courses for rural women
on leadership, public speaking, decision making and self-assertion;
iii. create new channels for enabling women to have an input into the
decision-making process by promoting participatory approaches and involving womens
groups and associations in decision-making processes at all levels;
iv. encourage dialogue and the building of links between local
womens associations and networks and rural development organisations and
v. promote affirmative action policies in technical ministries such as
agriculture and rural development.
C. Make an integrated approach to equality a primary concern
i. ensure a gender perspective is incorporated into the mandates and
activities of organisations through the development of concrete action plans and
ii. disseminate information among the organisations/institutions on the
situation of rural women, their concerns, and the required strategies to be taken for
iii. develop methodologies which allow the particularities of each sex
and the needs of rural women to be taken into account in the planning processes at all
iv. provide training and awareness-raising programmes for decision
makers, as well as for staff of those ministries/government bodies dealing with rural
issues, on the experiences and needs of women in rural areas and the importance of
recognising gender in rural development policies and planning.
D. Assure equal access to social services and cultural revival
i. ensure that rural and urban women have equal access to social
institutions and services;
ii. promote and disseminate information on the rich and diversified
rural cultural heritage, and the role of women in maintaining it, among rural communities
and between these and urban centres;
iii. promote initiatives which will provide rural girls and women with
satisfactory and rewarding possibilities for filling their leisure hours.
E. Increase womens participation in the economy
i. broaden the range of income-generating opportunities for rural women,
and especially for young women, by providing more balanced support for rural activities,
including part-time work, and by fully exploiting the opportunities offered by new
communication technologies for the maximum of occupations that can be exercised in the
countryside (see Assembly Recommendation 1122 (1990) on the revival of the countryside by
means of information technology);
ii. promote women entrepreneurs by assuring adequate training and access
to resources. The direct marketing and sale of farm products by the farmer and his/her
spouse must be facilitated and promoted;
iii. develop legislative initiatives that promote equality in the wage
system, including more flexible working arrangements, and increase the status of women in
agriculture, home enterprises, female-dominated professions, and in the informal sector.
The income derived from family farming or family businesses should be shared equally
between the spouses;
iv. establish a proper social status for helping spouses, providing them
with their own social security and pension protection;
v. increase rural womens ability to enter into paid employment by
improving the infrastructure of rural communities, in particular by strengthening the
provision of social and other services in rural areas, such as facilities for childcare
and care of the elderly, health-care centres, information and library facilities, public
transportation, as well as marketing facilities;
vi. improve rural womens access to information and advice about
employment and training opportunities through local media outlets (TV, radio, newspapers,
vii. encourage a better sharing of domestic and family responsibilities
between women and men through school and community education campaigns, and through
legislative initiatives that provide for more flexible working arrangements for both women
and men, without subsequent loss in pay or status of employees.
2. Education and training
i. establish local training institutions and programmes in rural areas
and promote more innovative training models that fit womens daily schedules,
including the development of part-time courses, community-based initiatives,
correspondence courses, and distance learning at all educational levels, fully exploiting
new information technology (see Assembly Recommendation 1122 (1990));
ii. promote training courses for rural women in entrepreneurship,
village and farm tourism, agro-forestry, fish farming, integrated production methods such
as organic farming, as well as in business planning, accounting, financing and loan
procedures, issues regarding taxation and marketing, etc., but also in non-traditional
rural occupations which can be performed anywhere by the use of new communication
technology (architecture, translation, etc.);
iii. create and strengthen local advisory training programmes, extension
services and basic and higher education for rural women to increase their awareness about,
and access to, less traditional career and business opportunities.
i. undertake legislative and administrative reforms to give rural women,
and especially married women, full and equal rights to land ownership;
ii. review land redistribution programmes to ensure safeguards for
households where the head of the family is a woman, as well as for the rights of married
women to joint shares of property.
i. revise fiscal regulations for farms and businesses to take account of
the particular characteristics of rural enterprises;
ii. promote special credit programmes to facilitate the setting up of
small businesses by rural women;
iii. review the access to financial credit by married women.
1. Text adopted by the Standing Committee, acting on
behalf of the Assembly, on 19 March 1997.
See Doc. 7735, report of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural
Development, rapporteurs: Mrs Johansson and Mr Korkeaoja.