Friday, August 11, 2006

Abstract of "Farm Women and Agricultural Policy"

by Carla Roppel, Annette Aurélie Desmarais and Diane Martz

While women play a critical role in the day-to-day operation of Canadian farms and the Canadian government have committed to achieving gender equality at all levels of decision making, there has been no explicit effort to identify farm women’s policy needs or their vision of an inclusive Canadian agricultural policy. This research project documents critical issues that rural women and girls believe need to be fully integrated into Canadian agricultural policy. In five regional workshops across Canada, during the winter of 2003-2004, farm women expressed deep connections with their farms and communities despite overwhelming social and economic pressures. Farm women established that the major stress in their lives and the lives of their families is the farm financial crisis created primarily by current government policy directions and corporatization of agriculture. Women confirmed that if these root causes of the financial crisis were solved, the quality of life in rural communities, and their health and environment would improve. Women’s vision for agricultural policy rests on four pillars: financial stability, domestic food policy, safe, healthy food and environment, and strengthening the social and community infrastructure. The agricultural policy that farm women envision is grounded in their daily life experiences. It responds to the needs of their families and their communities, and addresses social, cultural and environmental aspects of life and community, as well as economic well-being. To make those changes, women must be present at all levels of policy making, and their concerns and needs given equal weight to those of others. To address this need, the research outlines policy recommendations that will enhance the inclusion of farm women’s concerns, and their participation in developing Canadian agricultural policy.

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