Gender and Sustainability in Rural
Ireland by Sally Shorthall and Anne Byrne
considers if and how gender is relevant for the sustainability of rural
Ireland. When we refer to rural sustainability we mean the continuation of the
economic, social, institutional and environmental components of rural life.
There are many ways in which we could approach a chapter on gender and rural
sustainability. Mobility, education, employment, social class, health care and
practically every social structure impacts on gender and the sustainability of
rural areas. As these topics are covered in other chapters in this book, we
have chosen to focus on gender relations and the sustainability of agriculture
and rural development programmes. We review the existing body of research on
these topics and consider what they tell us about rural sustainability. The
literature review demonstrates how initially research reported gender
differences but did not analyse them in any depth. The next phase saw scholars
starting to examine the role of women on farms and latterly the role of women
in rural development programmes. More recently, scholars have turned their
attention to the implications for men of changing gender roles in rural areas.
It is clear that any renegotiation of womens roles has implications for mens
roles, and vice versa. Much of the research we will review focuses on whether a
particular construction of a gender role negatively impacts on another. Our
rationale is that a good quality of life for men and women seems central to the
sustainability of rural living. We conclude by identifying contemporary
considerations regarding gender and rural sustainability.