MEPs, in an own-initiative report, voted upon yesterday (Tuesday), considered that EU member states and the European Commission should better acknowledge the role of women within agriculture. This should be done in such a way that they have equal rights with men.
Women are taking part in agricultural activities, either by helping their spouse, or participating fully in the farm, but their role is often still underestimated and given little recognition. It follows from this that they can often only claim an inferior wage and therefore also a reduced pension, compared to the farmers themselves.
The MEP Hilde Vautmans (Open VLD) commented, “In the European Union, more than 12 million farmers ensure food provision for half a billion people, and family agriculture predominates. It is thus our duty as the European Union to give greater focus upon the role of women in agriculture.”
She goes on, “If we wish family farming to have a future in Europe, we must work upon acknowledging the role that these women shoulder.”
Tom Vandenkendelaere, a New Flemish Alliance MEP, agrees with her on this. He explains, “In Belgium, the New Flemish Alliance is looking for a “co-business partner” arrangement. This would allow the farmer’s wife to be a partner in 50% of the farm, and create more significant rights for the wife.”
However, the MEP states that this new status should not be a substitute for the “assisting spouse” status, which currently exists.
The Minister for Agriculture and SMEs, Willy Borsus, asserts in a joint communiqué with Ms Vautmans that his “priority is restoring the prestige of self-employment in general, and self-employed workers in particular.”
Borsus stresses that the alternative option to change the status of “assisting spouse” into “co-business partner” is also being looked into.