The visit to Hungary 1 – 4 August 2014 is part of a programme of visits funded through The European Network of Women from Rural Areas (ENWRA) which is a partnership between organisations in Cyprus, Germany, Hungary, Spain, Poland, Turkey and Northern Ireland.
The ENWRA partnership is funded through Grundgtvig Life Long Learning Programme to deliver a programme of meetings and visits hosted by each of the seven partners to their regions to provide women with the opportunity to look at how to address the difficulties women face as a result of rural isolation such as lack of employment and poor childcare support to share and learn from each other.
Heather McLaughlin, The Rural Centre/ Europe Direct NI is the co-ordinator from Northern Ireland and over the next two years will work with the partner organisations throughout Europe to look at the problems women face in rural areas and how to overcome them.
Following a visit to N Ireland in June four women from Fermanagh and Tyrone who hosted visits to their projects and enterprises were invited to participate in the visit to Hungary: Joan McCool, NIRWIN and Fist Steps Women’s Centre, Teresa O’Loughlin, Network for Enterprising Women and Marketing Consultant, Pauline Gilmartin, Owner of Gilmartin’ craft shop and Carmel Campbell, Women of the World Network.
The visit began in Budapest with a sightseeing visit of the city on Friday 1 August 2014 before meeting CoachOk Professional Association, the national women’s civil organisation for an overview of the situation of women in Hungary. Over the following few days participants from the seven partner regions travelled to the rural areas of Békéscaba, Medgyesegyhzà and Nagybànhegyes. Meetings with rural women included the Community Developement Assosiation of Békés county, Women’s Associations in Rural Areas, Cultural Organisations, visits to rural businesses run by women as well as participating in a famous watermelon festival as guests of the Mayor of Békéscaba.
Participants heard about specific issues faces by women from the Slovak Nationality Council and the Association for the Romanian Tradition as well as caring for the elderly and disabled from the Home Care Social Public Association and the Medgyesegyháza and Bánkút Disabled Association.
Hungary is the fourth visit delivered by the ENWRA project. The first meeting was hosted by the partners from Spain in the Rubielos de Mora, a beautiful village in the mountainous area in the province of Teruel.
The participants shared the main challenges faced by women in their regions and a common theme emerged with rural areas in general facing a decline due to an outflow of young people to cities seeking education and employment due to a shortage of opportunities in their own area. Once they leave the rural area they rarely return leaving ageing populations and an area facing economic decline which makes it less attractive for investment to encourage young people to return. Women in the area are very creative and many still carry on traditions in tapestry, lace making and other handicrafts. However, they do not see the potential of turning theses skills into businesses for themselves.