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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 Ministerial Roundtable A on “Good Practices in the Empowerment of Rural Women and Girls, including through Access to Education, Infrastructure, Technology and Nutrition” —

Mr. Chair,
Dear Colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Italian government attaches great importance to the theme of the healthy and sustainable development of rural communities, which, to be truly healthy and sustainable, must necessarily be hinged on four fundamental components: economic, social, environmental and institutional sustainability.

For this reason, this year’s Session of the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women offers us an extraordinary opportunity to cast a light on the other half of agriculture, that is, on women and women farm owners, in particular. These are resourceful women who have taken over a trade for centuries considered far too masculine, and have been able to bend it to their needs in the best ways possible.

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.

In its efforts to promote women’s entrepreneurship, Italy has set up a guarantee fund that facilitates access to credit for women during the start-up phase of their businesses. This fund, which is also available to women farmers, is one of the financial instruments considered a priority for the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises, accounting for an approximate 38 million euros.

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.

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, 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, and 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.

Italy thus aims to start off with these success stories also as a way to offer positive models to young women citizens who wish to take on a difficult but fascinating trade, that of those who, with great commitment and hard work, have decided to dedicate their lives to agriculture with passion and new scientific knowledge.

Thank you.