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Exploring Further Opportunities for Women in Rural Areas

Cultivation and processing of medicinal aromatic plants creates opportunities for gainful work for women. It is deemed a suitable and likeable subsector for women in rural areas with expansion potential. 

In Kosovo there is a large community of women working in the medicinal aromatic plants (MAPs) and non-wood forest products (NWFP) subsector, estimated at 62% of the total number of workers. While they primarily work as collectors and cultivators, through this activity women’s wellbeing has advanced over time, especially in view of the limited employment opportunities for women in the rural areas. Also, this type of work has contributed positively to their capacity-building, and they serve as a supportive community for one another. 

These are among the key findings of the recently published report “There is More to Growth Than Just Growing”. The report explores new opportunities for gainful work and doing business for women in this subsector. Some opportunities can be reaped in the near future, for example diversification of products or networking abroad, while others can be achieved over time, such as converting to direct exporters. The report was commissioned by the Promoting Private Sector Employment (PPSE) project of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. 

The subsector of MAPs and NWFPs, as well as organic farming, are very relevant to women, specifically for women in the rural areas not possessing a lot of land. Being included in work in this subsector provides them with an opportunity to accommodate work and housework responsibilities and earn income, also to involve other family members in the activity.

The report “There is More to Growth Than Just Growing” is part of the PPSE support to the MAPs and NWFPs subsector. The overall aim is to contribute to more income generation and employment for women, especially due to challenges that women in rural areas faced in 2020 because of COVID-19. This subsector represents unparalleled opportunities for women who own small businesses and farms, providing them with access to profitable market opportunities. 

The report further contributes to empowering women within the subsector, develop practices for better inclusion of all women, improve the unequal access of women to the labour market and help reduce barriers. On a larger scale, empowerment, and better inclusion of women in the MAPs and NWFPs subsector contributes to a gender transformative agenda across all society. 

PPSE is a Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation Project implemented by Swisscontact in consortium with Instituti Riinvest.