Household incomes, poverty rates and the labour market have all worsened in the last five years. The farming and the construction industry, which once sustained and extended families through male employment can no longer do so. This has resulted in the need for rural women to take on extra work or return to the workplace, often in P/T, low paid jobs.
Paid work is not equal for women and men. 2/3 of those earning minimum wage or below are women and women’s annual earnings are on average 33% below that of men. The poverty rate for pensioners is higher in NI than in other parts of GB with nearly half a million pensioners in NI living below the poverty line, including fuel poverty.
Women are outliving men in a population which is living longer but lacks the infrastructure to support this emerging demographic. Many rural women have embraced self-employment and entrepreneurship but would like support to achieve sustained business success. They require networking opportunities, mentoring and training support and support that is not just focused on extra job creation and export. Rural women would also like embryonic start up business support that is not focused on farm diversification, for those women who are considering self-employment but do not live on a farm.
Without a thriving rural economy, rural way of life is under threat.
- Introduce a dedicated women’s employment strategy to address the dominance of women in low paid work
- Take account of the effect of the economy on older women and take measures to mitigate against pensioner poverty
- In consultation with rural business women; create a sustained support structure for small rural business owners
- Address inadequate infrastructure support such as poor mobile telephone coverage, including roaming charges in border areas and lack of Broadband provision to enable rural businesses to flourish