The professional status of rural women in the EU
Women in rural areas of the EU make up below 50% of the total rural population. They represent 45% of the economically active population and about 40% of them work on their family farms. Their importance in rural economy is even greater, since their participation through the informal rural economy is not statistically recognised.
Despite an overall increase in women’s employment rates in Europe, including predominantly rural areas, important differences between EU countries remain. According to an analysis conducted for the European Parliament, women’s employment in EU rural regions (age class 15-64) has increased by almost 2% in the period 2013-2017. The largest increase in the share of employed women in rural regions was recorded in Hungary (17.1%), followed by Spain, Lithuania and Croatia, with about 12%; in the age category 20-64, countries in which the highest employment rates are registered are Sweden, Germany, Austria and the United Kingdom, while in Italy, Greece and Croatia these rates are the lowest.
Women are more likely than men to work in the informal economy (overall economy), although there is no single pattern in the Member States; Sweden leads in the share of women workers as informal employees, followed by Spain, Germany and France.
Regarding informal employment in agriculture, a higher participation of women is recorded in Romania, Slovenia, Lithuania and Croatia, and the lowest share in Sweden, Malta, Czech Republic and Germany; the most obvious particularity of part-time work is that it is a specific form of employment primarily affecting women. In the sector of Agriculture, forestry and fishing, the highest values are registered for Romania, Poland and Germany.
The greatest number of women as contributing workers in informal employment has been found in Romania, Luxembourg and Slovenia.
The average rate of self-employed women in EU rural areas is about 38%, but due to a lack of data it is hard to compare and explain the share of women in self-employment per Member States.
The unemployment rate in rural areas began to decline during the analysed period (2013- 2017); women have been more affected by unemployment than men (7.1% vs. 7.6% respectively). The highest rate of women’s unemployment is registered in rural regions in Greece.
Around 30% of farms across the EU-28 are managed by women; countries with the highest share of women as farm managers are Latvia and Lithuania, while in other Member States the proportion of female farm managers was below the EU average (Germany, Denmark, Malta, The Netherlands). The majority of female farm managers are in the age category 55-64. The number of female farm managers has declined during the past decade in all age categories.