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Over the past century, rural girls and women have increasingly taken on leadership roles in response to rural community development concerns and farm crises threatening the very existence of family farms and surrounding communities. This paper provides a brief historical overview of the status of women in rural Canada, and then describes the participation of girls and women in contemporary rural communities, with a focus on farming communities in southwestern Ontario. Case studies of rural girls' and women's involvement in 4-H clubs, Women's Institutes, Ontario Agri-Food Education Inc., and Women in Rural Economic Development (WRED) are included, with particular emphasis on the impact of WRED on the lives of rural women and their communities. WRED provides rural women with education, information, networking opportunities, and financial resources to begin and maintain small businesses. WRED strategies were tailored to meet rural women's issues, such as isolation, lack of formal education, and need for flexibility and child care. Many women in WRED are also active in Women's Institutes, hold leadership positions in local 4-H clubs, and participate in Agriculture in the Classroom programs in both rural and urban schools. They are trying not only to maintain their own rural communities and identities, but also to educate youth and urban dwellers about the important role of agriculture in all our lives. (Contains 43 references.) (TD)

Descriptors: Adult Education, Agricultural Education, Entrepreneurship, Farmers, Foreign Countries, Nonschool Educational Programs, Organizations (Groups), Rural Development, Rural Education, Rural Women, Self Employment, Social Networks, Womens Education, Youth Programs

Autor: Varpalotai, Aniko


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