[FLIARA PRESS] – The FLIARA Project, recently had the privilege of hosting a presentation by Leanne Townsend from the DESIRA project. DESIRA, an initiative focused on enhancing society’s capacity to respond to the challenges and opportunities of digitalisation in rural areas, has been making significant strides through its network of 21 Living Labs across 16 countries in Europe. The project’s objective is to assess the socio-economic impacts of ICT-related innovation in rural communities, both in the past and present, while also paving the way for future developments.
During the online session, Leanne Townsend captivated the FLIARA consortium with her insights into the digitalisation opportunities available in rural areas. Drawing from the vast collection of 81 digital stories from DESIRA, she highlighted how digital platforms can serve as catalysts for reaching new markets. Emphasising the transformative power of new digital technologies, Townsend astutely remarked, “They are game changers, reconfiguring social practices and generating both opportunities and threats, winners and losers.”
The FLIARA consortium, comprised of partners dedicated to fostering a vibrant rural innovation landscape, eagerly absorbed the lessons shared by DESIRA. One crucial aspect discussed was the gender divide in digital skills within the rural context. Townsend shed light on how women are more likely to utilise digital tools for innovation in small farms and rural enterprises, while larger farms and the forestry sector present some challenges in this regard. This observation opened up discussions on the gender composition within the Living Labs, which often mirrored the gender balance within sectors. Notably, farming and forestry, being traditionally male-dominated industries, called for a closer examination of the dynamics at play.
The collaboration between FLIARA and DESIRA has unveiled exciting prospects for rural women in their journey towards digitalisation and innovation. By working with innovative digital platforms, social networking, and collaborative tools, women across Europe are gaining access to new markets and expanding their opportunities. The exchange of knowledge and experiences between the two projects is proving instrumental in bridging the gender gap and empowering women in rural areas.
As FLIARA continues to forge ahead, it remains committed to leveraging the insights gained from DESIRA and similar initiatives to build a more inclusive and prosperous future for women in farming and rural innovation. By embracing digitalisation and nurturing a supportive ecosystem, FLIARA aims to transform the rural landscape, ensuring that the benefits of innovation are accessible to all.