Government support is coming for women in agriculture, Commissioner for Gender Equality Josi Christodoulou said on Sunday, saying their role in the sector lags behind that of men both on the island and the EU as a whole.

“None of us disagrees that the economic development of the agricultural sector in Cyprus is now a necessity,” she said.

This can be boosted by maintaining and strengthening the rural and entrepreneurial population through job creation and a wide range of economic activities, especially in rural and mountain areas, she said.

This is one of the government’s priorities, Christodoulou added.

However, she said this project has a strong gender dimension and ignoring that will see it fail.

“The rural woman today, like any woman, can contribute equally by achieving healthy, sustainable social and economic development,” she said, adding that the recognition of all farmers “is of paramount importance to lead to significant and real social, economic and environmental changes”.

The government has set high on its agenda the promotion of equality between women and men including those that play a rural role, she said.

He office is currently drawing up a National Strategy for Gender Equality for the period from 2024 to 2026, which will include training programmes on digital and financial competences aimed at rural women to empower them and ensure their economic independence.

At the same time, she said, her office will work with the deputy ministries of tourism and culture to highlight the role of rural women in cultural tradition which will result in their business support.

The multiple roles played by rural women and their invisible contribution for so many decades to the care economy and to work, including in the primary sector and entrepreneurship, need to be highlighted, Christodoulou said.

“I am also well aware that all these efforts are not an easy task, but they are imperative to contribute collectively to the fight against female poverty, to the sustainable development of our society, to the promotion of a healthy society and a more robust economy”.