Providing childcare services as a means of empowering women farmers in South Tyrol, Italy
Dalla Torre C
MetadataShow full item record
At: International Mountain Conference ; Innsbruck ; 08/09/2019 - 12/09/2019 ; Still today, invisibility, low societal appreciation and inappropriate remuneration characterizes the work of women farmers. Because it is necessary to adapt to current economic, social and ecological challenges, family-conducted farms have to reconsider traditional gender roles. In recent years, the provision of social services on the farm developed into a diversification opportunity in the agricultural sector. In South Tyrol, a social farming initiative was born in 2006, when some local women farmers started to design childcare service delivery on the farms. Today, a network of about 50 women farmers contributes to the offer of decentral, high-quality childcare in the Province. This study focuses on women farmers as central characters of social farming in South Tyrol. Rural gender studies and the women empowerment-literature suggest female entrepreneurship to promote a balanced power structure between men and women in agriculture and to enhance the improvement of women farmers’ social status in the local context. Accordingly, this explorative study investigates the recognized effects and outcomes that the activity as childminder on the farm has on women farmers’ working and living conditions. We applied a qualitative approach, interviewing 7 women farmers that provide childcare services and 4 experts. The results show that providing childcare services enhanced women farmers’ autonomy and had positive impacts on their skills. This activity changed their social role in the community by revalorizing rural lifestyles and by enabling the reconciliation of work and life for working mothers. Nevertheless, women farmers recognized both positive and negative effects on their workload, on their interfamilial- and other social relations. Finally, providing childcare services contributes to the sustainable development of mountain farming by improving women farmers’ financial situation and their appreciation. Nevertheless, a decrease of free time and work-overload could reduce the positive outcomes of their new activity on their quality of life.