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Gender issues should be integrated into rural policies at various levels and there is a need to intensify research on rural governance structures and processes from a gender equality perspective (Wiest, 2016). Rural women still face serious disadvantages, compared not only to rural men, but also to urban women. Despite policy efforts, results of recent studies and reports show that progress remains insufficient. The MORE partnership has thus decided to foresee one Project Result aimed at an exhaustive analysis of rural women’s multifunctionality as a new way to promote development and regeneration of the EU rural contexts.

The research will address the following aspects, among others:

  • Definition of multifunctionality of women.
  • Context, policy framework and historical evolution of this concept at EU and partnership country level.
  • Best practices in academia and policy-making.
  • Best practices in public and private sector.
  • Co-creation processes and communities’ hubs as new innovative ways to enhance women – and citizens more in general – education and participation in EU rural areas.
  • Final recommendations for public and private sectors.
  • Guidelines for replication of MORE paradigm.

Baseline Report Executive Summary
White Paper Executive Summary

An analysis of the multifuntionality of rural women as a new paradigm for rural development was undertaken at the EU level and within each of the countries represented within the MORE partnership, namely: Spain, Greece, Italy, Poland, and Romania. Within each of the country level analyses undertaken, a similar methodology was followed to ensure that the following areas were effectively covered: Definition, Policy Framework, Best Practices, Training Needs, and Co-Creation Examples.

Although no official or formal working definition regarding multifunctionality appears present, it is clear that the multiple roles of rural women are indirectly acknowledged and addressed in various contexts. It was concluded that the multifunctional role of rural women is a reality and, although there is no formal definition associated with it, the situation is similar in participant countries to that of the rest of the EU countries. Going forward, to ensure consistency across the EU, there needs to be a modernised, formal definition brought forward for guidance beyond the stereotypical view.

Policy frameworks across the participant countries appear fragmented and haphazard. Each country studied appears to be experiencing similar problems and concerns related to its rural environments and the role of women but their policy approaches differ substantially from reactive to proactive with uneven applications. As such, there needs to be more of a more substantive EU framework setting minimum requirements and obligations to create a semblance of fairness.

Despite varying policy frameworks a number of what can be considered best practices inside MORE participating countries. What is interesting is that many of these practices appear to be related to the area of agriculture and agri-tourism, somewhat stereotypical of rural environments. As well, they tend to be private initiatives rather than policy-level interventions. What appears to be lacking are mechanisms to transfer best practices related to the multifunctionality of women in rural environments across the EU. This would help leverage the positive things that are happening while helping to avoid undesired consequences.

The training needs related to the multifunctionality of rural women were found to, naturally, be varied given the number of different activities they are involved in and are responsible for within their communities. What has been identified across the countries is that, apart from the general training (formal and informal) offered at the country level, targeted training related specifically to the multifunctional needs of rural women is quite absent despite some pockets of activity in some countries. What is clear is that many of the activities are fragmented and primarily focused on building agrarian knowledge as opposed to the fundamentals of entrepreneurship including digital transformation. There exists a dynamic need to much more effectively, and directly, understand the needs of rural women from a holistic perspective and tailor training to their circumstances. This would allow the gearing of such training towards their personal future success as well as that of their communities.

What has been identified in terms of co-creation activities is a lack of initiatives and activities specifically aimed at rural women. Co-creation, together with community hubs, is intended to shape new and innovative ways of improving education and the participation of citizens, particularly women, in rural areas of the EU. It involves building relationships between stakeholder groups and sharing of knowledge and resources for mutual benefit. In the case of rural development, which is characterised by the collaborative economy, associations, and cooperatives, having a space such as a community hub makes it possible to promote synergies between all the parties involved, boosting the development of the rural environment.

This document is the result of the MORE Project Task 2.4 “Final guidelines and recommendations based on the MORE paradigm”. It defines guidelines on how to replicate the MORE educational approach and includes recommendations for policy-makers, academia, trainers and the economic sector on how to better empower rural women and increase their training and skills for their multifunctional role.


The project has stimulated inclusive participation of rural women and other rural stakeholders by:

  1. Involving the target group in the results’ definition through the establishment of “Rural Women Hubs”;
  2. Performing in-depth research on multifunctionality; and,
  3. Creating the first digital EU community dedicated to multifunctional rural women.

Just in the last decade co-creation has started being applied for the design and delivery of public processes and products. The MORE project research (PR2) has analysed how co-creation can be applied in rural areas, to engage women in the educational processes for rural development and regeneration, and to ensure their direct involvement and motivation. The White Paper shows how to achieve these objectives, presenting tips and strategies to all the different actors involved in this development and empowerment process.


First part: A set of boxes collecting partners’ recommendations

Each box addresses the needs of a particular target and a particular domain. Partners provided inputs depending on their particular field of expertise and research; indeed, the content of this section stems directly from the results of the “MORE study on multifunctionality of rural women as a new paradigm for rural development”, carried out by partners in PR2, and the co-creation events carried out in PR3.

Recommendations for VET providers (RADIO ECCA)

To improve the quality of training addressed at rural women, VET providers should:

  • Support mentoring, tutoring and accompaniment;
  • Design and maintain a system for listening to the user in a systematic way.
  • Let the design of the training be tailored to the rural environment itself.
  • Adopt case studies and practical approach based on the rural environment.
  • Tackle Multifunctionality as a skill by working on soft skills and the OECD “transformative competencies” (creative and design thinking / thinking and acting in a more integrated way / self-regulation, self-efficacy, responsibility, problem solving and adaptability).

How to enhance digital skills (ITSFA)

  • Adopt policies and action plans to facilitate access to digital media, equipment, and resources
  • Promote digital literacy and digital entrepreneurship empowerment
  • Create digital hubs, shared business/entrepreneurial space representing an employment network that fosters a business ecosystem and generates new opportunities of great value. The allocation of the necessary resources and the usability/effectiveness of the hubs by the target group will guarantee the sustainability of these spaces

Recommendations for policy makers and participative actions (DEMESTONE & CIRCLE)

To operationalize the multifunctionality and foster rural women inclusion policy makers should:

  • Leverage the European Social Fund to activate, through local VET providers, permanent dedicated training programmes for rural women strictly designed for their needs;
  • Include within the Rural Development Programmes specific measures on women, their role in rural areas and multifunctionality
  • Ensure women representation and active role within the LEADER approach, the local development method promoted by the EU in which farmers, rural businesses, local organisations, public authorities and individuals from different sectors come together to form Local Action groups (LAGs) with the aim of designing rural areas development strategies and allocating resources
  • Promote, within the municipalities, consultation events, intermediary associations and advisory desks dedicated to women running a business or willing to do so.

Recommendations for EU policies and actions (IHF)

EU policies can promote women multifunctionality as a driver for rural development by:

  • Systematically collecting gender-based data in rural areas in order to design better strategies for women empowerment.
  • Ensuring an equal representation of women within the Local Action Groups (LAGs) by integrating new gender-based indicators within the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

The CAP promotes the LEADER approach as well as the objective “Promote employment, growth, gender equality, including the participation of women in farming, social inclusion and local development in rural areas” (See EU Regulation 2021/2115). According to the European Commission decision-making bodies within the LAGs should be gender-balanced; however, women are still underrepresented (European Court of Auditors, 2022). To address this gap some impact indicators related to the abovementioned CAP’s objective may be integrated as follows:

Indicator R.38: Share of rural population covered by local development strategies (LEADER coverage)
Possible additional indicator: Share of rural women population covered by local development strategies

Indicator R.39: No. of rural businesses, including bio-economy businesses, developed with CAP support
Possible additional indicator: Number or rural female businesses developed with CAP support

How to enhance women economic inclusion and female entrepreneurship (IDP & KLEINON)

  • Set up free or accessible counselling/support services to assist women identify, access, and manage available national and EU funding
  • Consult and involve women from the local community in all stages of strategic development
  • Encourage women’s ownership of land and productive assets through tax incentives/exemptions

Recommendations for the academic sector and the enhancement of research (SEERC)

  • Identify the impact of multifunctionality on family, business, and community levels
  • Develop an EU framework to understand the conceptualisation of multifunctionality
  • Conduct primary research with women, men, and children in rural communities

Second part: Lessons learnt

The second part of the White Paper gathers recommendations and lessons learnt resulting from the Test and Validation phase (Task 3.3). The delivery of the training courses to the target group allowed partners to identify strategies and methods to better address rural women training needs. At the same time, the Test & Validation sessions allowed partners to outline lessons learnt and spot areas for further improvement that can support practitioners and decision makers to better serve the target:

  • From the perspective of the learning experience, participants confirmed that the video aspects and the self-assessments tools are highly appreciated, asking for a more systematic integration of those contents within the learning experience.
  • Constant updating of the training material is also required in order to ensure that it remains up-to-date with evolving knowledge and technologies.
  • The MORE resources were particularly appreciated for their micro-learning approach delivering content in small, focused, and easily digestible learning units. It is important not to overwhelm participants with unnecessary details.
  • Micro-learning facilitates the ease of use without assistance; indeed, rural women ask for resources that, like the ones developed by the MORE project, are easy to follow and complete without the need for additional assistance. This design acknowledges the limited time rural women might have due to various responsibilities and maximises the efficiency of the learning experience, making it highly effective and engaging.
  • However, support services that can assist participants in implementing what they have learned, particularly in the field of entrepreneurship, are highly required. This demand proves the relevance of services like mentorship programmes, skills-specific workshops or post-training consultations that may be integrated to MORE-like training resources.
  • To determine the most suitable format for training sessions, it is necessary to consult the target group offering options like face-to-face guided sessions with trainers, scheduled interactive activities, group projects, and local events.
  • It is important that courses addressed to rural women are not generic but offer in-depth content tailored to the very specific rural context, including its unique characteristics, challenges, and opportunities. In this regard, the engagement of local stakeholders can play a significant role: close collaborations with local authorities and communities can contribute to customising the course according to region-specific issues, leveraging available resources effectively, facilitating connections between course participants and local entrepreneurs, businesses, or market.