World Rural Womens Day Celebrated
20 October 2010
Northern Ireland Rural Women’s Network (NIRWN) held a celebratory event to mark World Rural Women’s Day in Armagh this week.
Over 120 women travelled from all over the Province to attend the event which was held in the Armagh City Hotel. Siobhan Doherty, Director of NIRWN said, “World Rural Womens Day is a day when we boldly celebrate being rural women and where recognition is given to the contribution they make to their communities, to agriculture, to the economy and to society. It is also a day when we acknowledge some of the inequalities we face as rural women and seek to inform women of the opportunities open to them which will help improve the quality of their lives.”
Speaking at the event, Joan McCool, NIRWN Chair said, “This is an important date in the calendar for rural women. The UN General Assembly declared to observe 15 October as ‘International Day of Rural Women’, which means that as a consequence all UN Member States are called to officially mark the Day in their respective countries. This then allows rural women the opportunity to ask our government what it is doing to address their right to development, to acknowledge their contributions and help improve their conditions.”
NIRWN holds this day as a celebration every year and along with giving rural women the opportunity to network it also provides them with information that will be useful to them. Mary Doyle, Deputy Mayor of Armagh City & District Council, welcomed everyone to the event expressing her delight at it taking place in Armagh this year. William Taylor from ‘Fairness for Farmers in Europe’ gave an overview of the campaign for fair farm-gate prices to those present, highlighting the difficulties farmers face when selling to the large conglomerates. He pointed out that a farmer does not go out of business, he just stops farming and this is having a major impact on the farming industry in Northern Ireland and across the UK in general.
This year the theme of the event was the development of projects and business ideas which will bring benefit to rural communities, utilising potential funds from the NI Rural Development Programme. Information was provided on accessing funds to allow rural women to set up in business, to help identify projects for their local community and the funding and support available to them to make this happen. Speaking at the event, Thelma Thompson of the Social Economy Network highlighted the role they can play in the development of ideas into business and offered their support to all rural women who wish to pursue this as an option for their business idea. Thelma said, “Where problems exist within rural communities, so too does the opportunity to bring solutions. The social enterprise model is a model that should be considered”.
Also speaking was Elaine Cullen, Rural Programme Manager of the SOAR Local Action Group, who are responsible for the administration of the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 (NIRDP) within the rural areas of Craigavon, Armagh and Newry. Elaine spoke about projects they have already funded that are being run and managed by women. She said, “Rural women should be equal beneficiaries of the NIRDP and I would be delighted to talk to and work with any group or individual who has an idea they think might benefit the rural community where they live. I want to help rural women benefit from this funding programme as it is the largest funding available to rural communities at the minute.” She went on to say that, “local people are involved in the decision-making process of how these funds are delivered in the rural areas. Through this we aim to support the rural economy and improve the quality of life of those people that work and live there.” She recognised the contribution NIRWN has made to this decision making process through the representation staff and board members provide on the Local Action Group.
Maureen Morgan, a Trustee of the Charity Ndi Moyo, spoke of her work in the Salima district of Malawi. She relayed the story of Lucy Finch, a woman who has made a huge difference in the community where she lives, helping in the setting up of a centre for palliative care to support the chronically and terminally ill and the accessing of basic medication and education which are things we all take for granted. Maureen explained “Ndi Moyo is a charity set up to help the people in this rural area by building a palliative care centre. It has educated many young people and has provided medication and help that is not readily accessible.” Maureen brought into sharp focus the inequalities people in poverty face and pointed out that wherever you are in the world, you can very often need help that is just beyond your reach.
The Armagh Rhymers provided a fitting end to the day taking participants on a journey from Halloween to the Spring of the year with their individual and visually stimulating performance of song, music and storytelling like you were on the kitchen floor.
NOTES TO EDITOR:
Background to NIRWN
NIRWN was established in September 2006 as a regional structure with the role of supporting the articulation of rural women’s voices at a more strategic level.
NIRWN is funded by DARD and DSD and as part of the 2007 Programme for Government, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) has been allocated funding for actions to address rural poverty and social exclusion.
A key goal for DARD is to strengthen the social and economic infrastructure of rural areas. The key instrument used to contribute to the achievement of this goal is the NI Rural Development Programme (NIRDP) that runs from 2007 - 2013. This programme aims to create more sustainable businesses and jobs, support projects that will enhance the quality of life of local communities and support strong community infrastructures. DARD needs to ensure community involvement that is capable of making decisions as owners of the projects and making effective use of resources. Central to this is the need for community groups to be able to access effective support services to develop themselves. This includes undergoing such stages as reviewing their actions and identifying best practices. These stages will require the guidance of the support service to bring experience from outside of the community to the group either directly or by allowing the building of cross community relations.
All of this can best be achieved by a Programme which aims to provide solutions that address the particular and distinct challenges faced by rural people/communities in relation to Community Development issues and it is through this support from DARD that NIRWN were bale to bring together women from across Northern Ireland to hear speakers talk about the Rural Development Programme and Social Economy as a path to their own communities and their development.
World Rural Women’s Day - Origins
The idea of a World Rural Women's Day to be devoted each year to honor rural women began at a UN Conference for Women in Beijing in September 1995.
This was considered a practical way of obtaining recognition and support for the multiple roles of rural women in rural communities.
Rural women make us more than a quarter of the world p