Gidarakou, I. Dimopoulou, Eleni Lagogianni, R. Sotiropoulou, S.
Year of Publication:
46th Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "Enlargement, Southern Europe and the Mediterranean", August 30th - September 3rd, 2006, Volos, Greece
Retaining young people in rural areas is a crucial factor in regional development since they are considered to be the most important human capital asset especially in promoting endogenous development. Retaining young women is of outmost importance as women leave more often than men rural areas due to factors such as the existing hierarchical structure in agricultural labour and the masculinisation of economic and leisure activities in such areas. The 'young farmers' EU programme, managed in Greece by the Ministry of Rural Development & Food, aims at improving the age structure in rural areas, attracting young people (up to 40 years old) to agriculture and, finally, retaining young people in rural areas. For young women, such a programme may provide a chance to empower their position within the household, become professional farmers, participate in decision-making within cooperatives and other bodies involved in agriculture and thus in decisions related to agricultural policy, and to participate as dynamic actors in the rural development process. In the frame of a wider research project concerning young women farmers in the West Macedonia region, Greece, despite a general trend indicating that young women entered the 'young farmers' programme as farm managers but do not actually overcome the traditional role as farmer wives or daughters, a nucleus of young women active in agriculture with a positive attitude towards farming is also found. The present paper focuses on the later category. Their occupational trajectories since the time they finished school, their entrance and role in farming, their participation in collective bodies as well as their attitude towards the 'young farmers' programme as related to gender are presented and discussed. Data were drawn through a survey and, mainly, in-depth interviews, acquired within the aforementioned research project. The aim of the paper is to develop a critical view of on-going policies and policy instruments and thus to highlight the need for spatially and socially targeted research which would, in turn, facilitate the optimal implementation of the 'young farmers' programme along with the empowerment of young women in the family farm and the public image of farming and thus the re-orientation of the attitudes of, no matter how small, a number of women towards agriculture