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Sixty-second Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW62)

Statement delivered by the Deputy Minister for Economic Development, Hon. Teresa Bellanova, at the Side Event on “The voice of rural women for a sustainable and healthy future” —

Madam Vice President,


Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is an honor for me to welcome you, on behalf of the Italian Government, to this event dedicated to rural women, organized by Italy and co-sponsored by the Government of Zambia and the World Health Organization.

I would first like to take this opportunity to thank the Vice President of the Republic of Zambia, Inonge Mutukwa Wina, the representatives of UNWomen, of the WHO and the speakers who will be bringing the debate to life, as well as all those who contributed to the successful organization of this event.

Italy attaches great importance to the issue of the healthy and sustainable development of rural communities. And by sustainable – we mean a development that can satisfy the needs of current generations without jeopardizing opportunities for future generations to satisfy their own. For development to be truly healthy and sustainable, it must necessarily be based on four essential components: economic sustainability, social sustainability, environmental sustainability, and institutional sustainability.

In this framework, this year’s session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women and this very side event offer an extraordinary opportunity to give visibility to the other half of agriculture, that is, women – resourceful women that have taken over a trade that throughout the centuries was considered far too masculine, but who were able to bend it to their needs in the best possible way.

I find this moment particularly fitting to highlight the contribution of women’s entrepreneurship to Italy’s agricultural and economic sectors. Their rightful role in Italian agriculture should be acknowledged, considering that about one third of Italy’s farms are run by women.

Women-run farms are often multifunctional and rely on diversified activities. This is widely demonstrated by the 8,027 agritourism businesses run by women, accounting for 36.1% of the total, with a growth in women’s management of facilities of 2.7% compared to 2014.

Italian women agricultural entrepreneurs are able to ensure quality management while making multifunction a winning formula for the upkeep of their businesses, bearing a positive impact not only on the agricultural sector but on the overall economy of a given rural area.

In recognition and promotion of the contribution of women to agriculture, Italy established at the Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies the Premio De@Terra award, within a series of actions undertaken to uphold women’s entrepreneurship in agriculture.

The Premio De@Terra award, with the practical purpose of exploring the potential for cooperation in the agricultural and agro-food sector, for the transfer of know-how and good practices, and for activating synergies among Italian and foreign entrepreneurs, represents a tangible sign of acknowledgment and encouragement for the fundamental role of women in agriculture.

In various editions of the award from 2001 to date, approximately 80 women agricultural entrepreneurs have been awarded, distinguishing themselves for their outstanding efforts in working for the development of agriculture and rural areas. The common characteristics of all of these women prize recipients are the will and ability to produce high quality food, while respecting traditions and the environment.

The entrepreneurs here today to offer their testimony serve as an example of some of the positive effects of multifunctional activities and of the ability to broaden the offerings of one’s business by introducing innovation into the production process and into business management, while also paying great attention to various social and environmental themes.

Allow me thus to introduce them to you before giving the floor to the Deputy Executive Director of the Office of the World Health Organization at the UN, who I thank again for having accepted our invitation to participate in our event.

– Laura Bargione is a Sicilian entrepreneur who runs an organic farm – Mariscò – with her family and whose work demonstrates great social interest.

– Giorgia Pontetti is an electronic and space engineer whose passion for agriculture was so strong that she made a career change and is now applying her scientific knowledge to the management of her farm. This is why she was awarded for innovation and respect for the environment.

– Emilia Nardi is President and General Director of Tenute Nardi, producer of the world renowned Brunello di Montalcino wine and was awarded for her high quality product and contribution to disseminating a Made in Italy product of excellence throughout the world.

– Mariangela Costantino, runs the Mariangela Costantino farm and agritourism business in Calabria, in the south of Italy. She was awarded for her multifunctional approach in management and for her contribution to preserving the rural landscape.

We will in a few minutes hear the stories about their life and work experiences directly from these women.

I thank all of you for being here and wish you much success in your work.

Thank you.