The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) Mexico and the Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine (DAFM) have jointly launched an initiative to provide support for rural women entrepreneurs in Mexico.

The programme is supported and jointly funded by the DAFM in collaboration with the FAO.

According to the department, the programme draws experience from the Accelerating the Creation Of Rural Nascent Start-ups (ACORNS) programme in Ireland, and will focus on empowering female entrepreneurs in the Mexican state of Jalisco.

This will be done through mentorship and peer support, improving and enhancing engagement in the rural economy, and increased resilience. 

Support for rural women

According to the DAFM, this programme resonates with the recognition in Ireland’s Food Vision 2030 strategy of the key role of women in farming and food. 

Launching the programme, Minister of State Martin Heydon said: “It means a lot to me to be part of an initiative focused on supporting rural women and female entrepreneurs, as it is a cause that is very close to my heart.

“I was born and raised on a farm and when I was eight-years old my father passed away. The 1980s was not an easy time to be a female farmer in Ireland.

“However, rather than leasing or selling the farm, my mother took it on as she wanted to raise her three children at the heart of a rural community. I saw first hand, the challenge for my mother, to run her business in a very male-dominated industry – but also how good she was at it.

“That is why I passionately believe that the mentorship programme we are launching in Mexico, modelled on our experiences in Ireland, will be hugely beneficial,” Heydon added.

The programme’s main objectives are to guarantee and support the livelihoods of rural women and promote gender equality in agricultural activities, and to raise awareness and protect women’s rights and inclusion in value chains.

Ambassador Maeve von Heynitz commented: “Mexico and Ireland share a deep history of friendship and cooperation including serving together on the UN Security Council, and co-chairing the informal expert group on Women, Peace and Security.

“I am delighted that the embassy and Government of Ireland are working together with the Mexican Government on such an important project as securing the livelihoods of rural women through mentorship and building resilience.”