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Project FLIARA

Teagasc and lead coordinator University of Galway join a range of partners across the EU to bolster female-led innovation in rural areas.

The interdisciplinary work of FLIARA is being driven by a wide range of academics and researchers

Teagasc and lead coordinator University of Galway join a range of partners across the EU to bolster female-led innovation in rural areas. In 2021, the European Commission introduced the Long-Term Vision for Rural Areas, highlighting the various challenges and concerns faced by rural communities. These challenges encompass demographic issues, lower GDP per capita and limited access to essential services like water, electricity and broadband. Moreover, contemporary trends such as climate change, gender inequalities, and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic have introduced new complexities to rural Europe. However, amid these challenges, rural areas also present opportunities for building resilience, inclusivity and sustainability, particularly through digital and ecological transitions.

To address the challenges and seize the potential opportunities in European rural regions, it is imperative to promote rural innovation and ensure the active participation of all individuals and communities. Historically, the role of rural women in employment opportunities, enterprise and innovation has been marginalised and often suppressed within a patriarchal context. Against this backdrop, the Horizon Europe project FLIARA was founded.

Anne Kinsella, Senior Research Officer at Teagasc, explains: “FLIARA, which stands for ‘Female-Led Innovation in Agriculture and Rural Areas,’ offers a groundbreaking methodology aimed at enhancing our understanding, awareness and recognition of the crucial role played by women in shaping a more sustainable rural future. Additionally, it seeks to develop more effective policy and governance frameworks capable of supporting and enhancing the capacity of rural women to contribute significantly to this transformative process.” The FLIARA project aims to create a pan-European ecosystem that champions and supports women-led innovations in farming and rural areas. This comprehensive project is inclusive of rural women from diverse backgrounds, spanning age, class, culture, race and ethnicity, who are either already leading or aspiring to engage in innovative practices within rural and farming contexts.

At its core, Anne explains, the FLIARA Project seeks to ensure that women are integrated into a more effective innovation ecosystem. “This highlights their achievements, provides inspiration and knowledge, fosters valuable networks with key innovation stakeholders, increases their visibility in national and international decision-making arenas, enhances their capacities and skills, and empowers them to lead or embark on innovative practices in farming and rural areas.”

The role of women in agriculture and rural areas has often been marginalised – the FLIARA project seeks to rectify this imbalance and highlight female entrepreneurship

 A systematic, organised approach

The FLIARA project has a number of key goals intended to spur innovation and change among women working in agriculture and rural areas. Among these goals: improving understanding of women-led innovations already occurring in agriculture and rural areas; imagining the role of women in future sustainable farming and rural development; analysing specific women-led innovations, examining their needs and challenges; identifying ways to increase other rural and farm women’s capacity to engage in innovations; and establishing a Community of Practice network to facilitate multi-actor exchanges and knowledge sharing.

The FLIARA project is structured into six distinct work packages, each with specific objectives and tasks. These work packages ensure a systematic and organised approach to achieving the project’s overarching goals. To date, the project has developed a solid conceptual framework for the project, conducting literature reviews and assessing existing knowledge. It also includes benchmarking policy and legal frameworks for gender equality. A novel and exciting element of the FLIARA project is completing a Foresight and Trend Analysis, which envisions sustainable farming and rural futures across Europe, identifying necessary sustainability innovations and assessing the potential role of women in these innovations.

The bulk of the FLIARA work will delve into the pathways and challenges faced by women in farming and rural innovation, through a series of case studies carried out across the ten partner countries, explains Maura Farrell, associate professor of Geography at University of Galway, “This will identify thematic case studies under four sustainability dimensions and conduct interviews with 200 innovative women. To disseminate all foresight trends and the case study results, the FLIARA project will establish four Community of Practice networks. It will also allow FLIARA to identify 20 Innovation Ambassadors to disseminate their work across the EU. “To ensure change and progress for women-led Innovations across the EU, the FLIARA project will design more effective policy and governance frameworks, taking insights from the project into account. It engages stakeholders in participatory scenario development to adapt policies for future changes.”

Depth and diversity

The FLIARA consortium is a diverse and multi-actor group of organisations with expertise in various aspects of agriculture, rural development and gender equality. It includes universities, European networks, a national agricultural agency, a community organisation, and an SME from 15 partners across ten EU countries. Within an Irish context, the University of Galway is the lead coordinator, assisted by Teagasc and Longford Women’s Link, a key SME working on the project.

The FLIARA project is poised to make significant strides in empowering women in agriculture and rural areas across Europe. With its comprehensive approach, multi-actor engagement and systematic methodology, FLIARA aims to challenge gender norms, foster innovation, and create a more inclusive and sustainable future for rural communities. As the project progresses, it will contribute valuable insights, policy recommendations and a platform for knowledge sharing, ultimately paving the way for women-led innovations to become the norm rather than the exception in farming and rural development.   


Horizon Europe Project – Funded by the European Union.


Maura Farrell
Associate Professor of Geography, University of Galway.

Louise Weir
FLIARA Project Manager,
University of Galway.

Anne Kinsella
Economist & FLIARA Project Principal Investigator, Teagasc.

 [pic credit 1] Teagasc, Phynart Studio/iStockphoto.com

[pic credit 2] Teagasc