Dáil Éireann - Volume 463 - 14 March, 1996

Written Answers. - Women in Rural Society.

88. Mr. Hyland asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry the parallel measures, if any, he will put in place regarding the recently announced proposal of special measures to support the role of women in rural society by the Agricultural EU Commissioner, Mr. Frans Fischler; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5907/96]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. Yates): The Deputy may be interested in the following measures in place to support the role of women in rural society. Under the Operational Programme for Agriculture, Rural Development and Forestry, 1994-1999 under the Structural Funds, Teagasc is committed to providing training for promoting the role and active participation of women in rural society. In order to facilitate the participation of women in Teagasc training courses, a number of the adult courses will be reserved for women in 1996, with an anticipated enrolment of about 700.

The training needs of women were the subject of a study commissioned by Teagasc and carried out in 1995 with funding under the EU NOW initiative. Their training programme covers the following areas:—

—the Certificate in Farming now includes a module stressing the importance of involving women in the whole decision making process in relation to agriculture and rural development

—specific courses are provided for rural women on personal development, start-your-own business, food enterprise, etc.

—since 1994 under the Operational Programme, new Rural Enterprise courses have been provided in the food, tourism, horticulture and [462] horse development areas and it is encouraging to note that 78 per cent of the participants in 1994-1995 were women.

Teagasc, in association with FÁS and CERT, are engaged in a project to develop a gender proofing system in their organisations.

Progress in all of these areas is monitored by this Department and will come up for discussion at the next meeting of the Monitoring Committee of the Operational Programme (on which the social partners are represented) on 28 March 1996.

Leader: No new measures are proposed. In the programme as it operates, while there is no specific emphasis in favour of women, all groups must give equal access to women in all of their training and project activities.

A target of 40 per cent representation of women on the boards of the Leader project has been set.

Training: the Rural Training Advisory Committee (RUTAC) is well advanced in establishing a new Rural Training Course which will be provided by Teagasc and other Training Agencies (FÁS, CERT, etc.). Particular provision will be made to encourage women to participate in the new course.

Rural Development Policy Advisory Group: This broadly representative group has been established to advise on the formulation of future policy. Among the issues which the group will report to the Minister on is the involvement and participation of women in rural development.