FLIARA Kick-off meeting marks the beginning of the project

The European ‘Female-led innovation in Agriculture and Rural Areas’ (FLIARA) project celebrated its official kick-off meeting in Brussels on 26th and 27th January 2023, bringing together, for the first time, project partners.

Funded by the European Commission’s Horizon Europe programme (Grant Agreement No 101084234), the FLIARA project involves fifteen public and private organisations from ten different countries across Europe. The project is coordinated by the University of Galway, Ireland and will last three years.

FLIARA’s main objective is to create a European-wide ecosystem, which supports women-led innovative practices in farming and rural areas. Thus, FLIARA proposes a unique and innovative approach to improve the understanding, awareness and recognition of women’s role in a more sustainable rural future, as well as developing more effective supporting policy and governance frameworks.

Building on a thematic case study approach, project partners will investigate women-led innovations in rural areas of four EU macro-regions – Atlantic, Central & Eastern, Nordic Baltic, and Mediterranean. Upon the case studies’ selection and analysis, FLIARA will create and grow a Community of Practice Network to establish a learning partnership amongst all key stakeholders engaged in rural and farming innovation. It will also launch a Campaign of Visibility to raise awareness of women roles in farming and rural areas.

The first day of the FLIARA kick off meeting (26th January) was structured as a warm-up and introduction to present the overall vision and the Advisory Board members, and start discussions on specific activities of the project, namely contextual concepts and assessment frameworks, communication and policy design. The meeting was opened by the Project Coordinator - Associate Professor, Maura Farrell of the University of Galway. In her introductory speech, Prof. Farrell highlighted that ‘we face many challenges, and on-going issues in rural areas, including long established questions around gender inequality. The FLIARA project will use transdisciplinary innovation to improve women’s recognition in rural areas, which is a crucial aspect in bringing forward a more sustainable future for rural areas. FLIARA’s vision will be, to spotlight rural women as innovative actors, playing a key role in enhancing the sustainability of rural areas.

The second day of the kick off meeting (27th January) counted with the participation of the Project and Policy Officers of the Research Executive Agency of the European Commission. During this last meeting day, the consortium’s discussions on the technical activities of the project continued, particularly focusing on methodologies and tools for case studies’ preparation, selection and analysis. Finally, administrative, financial and ethics aspects were also addressed to build solid foundations for a sound management of activities since the start of the project.

The two-day kick off meeting was, therefore, an occasion to exchange views and expectations about how each task would be carried out and to pave the way for all partner organisations to have a shared understanding of how the project activities are connected and will need to be executed.

To conclude, the FLIARA project aims to challenge the gender norms, relations and stereotypes that fail to recognise the contribution that women are currently making and can make into the future in leading rural and agricultural innovation in the European Union. The project is expected to deliver changes in societal practices and in the behaviour of individuals, communities, public and private organisations, contributing to achieving the European Gender Equality Strategy and the Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality.