Farms in Progress - Providing Childcare Services as a Means of Empowering Women Farmers in South Tyrol, Italy
Dalla Torre C
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In recent years, social farming has developed into an opportunity for income diversification in the South Tyrolean agricultural sector. In the northern Italian province, predominantly women farmers implement the provision of social services on farms. Starting from rural gender studies and women empowerment-literature, we hypothesize that social farming promotes the empowerment of the involved women. Accordingly, our study investigates the recognized impacts of offering farm-based childcare services on three types of power: power to, power with, and power within. In order to test our hypothesis, we conducted semi-structured interviews with seven women farmers that provide childcare services and with four experts. The results show that the provision of childcare services has enhanced the autonomy of women farmers and has had positive impacts on their skills and competences. This activity has changed their social role in the community by revalorizing rural lifestyles and by enabling the reconciliation of work and personal life for working mothers. Nevertheless, women farmers have recognized some negative effects on their workload, and on their interfamilial as well as other social relations. Finally, the study discusses the relationship between the specific ethno-linguistic context in South Tyrol and the effects of the activity of childcare provision on women farmers’ empowerment.
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