Previous PageTable Of Contents

Case study of Slovenia

Case study of Slovenia

By Alenka Verbole¹ 1997

List of acronyms


Association of Farm Women


Agricultural Advisory Service


Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Warsaw Pact)


Center for Rural Development and Village Revitalization


Ministry of Health and Socially Security


Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry


Ministry of Economic Affairs


Ministry of Education and Sports


Ministry of Spatial Planning


Ministry of Work, Social Affair and Family


National Employment Office


Office for Women's Policy


Slovenian Committee for Unicef


Women's Political Office

I Slovenian scenario

SLOVENIA, a former constituent partner of Yugoslavia, is one of the smallest and youngest countries in Europe². It covers an area of 20 256 km² with a population of approximately 2 million that is composed of more than 50 percent women. Slovenia has almost 6000 towns and a population density of 97.1 per km². The country is mountainous, dominated by the Julian, Karavanke and Kamnik ranges of the eastern Alps. There is a 46 km stretch of coastline on the Adriatic. Slovenia is bordered by Italy in the west, Austria in the north, Hungary in the east, and Croatia in the south. The great variation in climate and geography lends itself to the development of tourism in the Alpine, Adriatic, Karst and Panonian regions.

Ljubljana, population 305 000, is the capital as well as administrative and cultural centre of the country. Maribor, population more than 100 000, is the second largest city. Previous polycentric regional developments created the conditions for relatively equal lifestyles and working conditions in most of the country's regions.

Since gaining independence in 1991, Slovenia has undergone dramatic changes and developments, characterized by a double transition - the transition into an independent state, and the transition from a semi-planned to a free-market system. These transitions have been affected by a series of external shocks such as the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the non-selective sanctions against all the republics of the Former Yugoslavia, the loss of the Yugoslav market and growing competition from former member states of CMEA.

With its new constitution, Slovenia became a democratic parliamentary state, based on the principle of separation of powers. Executive power is held by a government elected in Parliament, and a President of the Republic chosen in direct elections by the female and male citizens. The government³ is the highest executive body of authority and the highest national administrative body. The highest judicial branches of power are the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Court and the Human Rights Ombudsman established by Slovenia in 1994.

Slovenia is a highly industrialised and export-oriented country. With a gross national product (GNP) of USD 10 000 per caput (Delo, 1996), Slovenia is considered a medium-developed country, ranked lower than Spain and Ireland but more prosperous than Greece, Portugal and Eastern European countries. The country's production and foreign trade are highly diversified, with a gross domestic product (GDP) generated by industry (34.7 percent), services (57.8 percent), tourism (2.9 percent) and agriculture (4.9 percent).

To create a niche for Slovenia in the new Europe, the government has been formulating new policies on all aspects of national life. However, it has been preoccupied with political and economic questions4 and has not considered the effects of the transition and transformation on social development. The recent social changes have led to new problems, such as formulation of classes within the society, increasing poverty, deterioration of the social security system, growing unemployment, revival of traditionalist values and ways of life, and the reduction of existing social rights (Verbole, 1997b). The effects of these changes could seriously disturb the balance between future economic and social developments and could lead to conflicts and breakdowns in Slovenian society.

1.1 Slovenia's countryside and agriculture

Although agriculture accounts for only a small percentage of Slovenia's GDP, rural areas are very important to Slovenia. According to the 1991 census, almost one-half of the Slovenian population lives in rural areas and 50 percent of the rural population is women. Since the migration from the countryside to towns stopped in the early 1980s, the ratio between the rural and urban population has remained stable.

Most of Slovenia's countryside today has fairly good basic infrastructure and services, including health care. Telephones, radios, televisions and refrigerators are common in rural households (Siiskonen, 1996).

The rural population is a mixture of blue and white collar workers, part-time farmers, full-time farmers and professionals. Farmers are, in fact, a minority group in the Slovenian countryside. The agricultural population accounts only for 7.6 percent of the total population. One-half of the agricultural population is women. According to the 1991 census, three-fourths of the farm population is active. The proportion of women (50.4 percent) within the active farming population just surpasses the proportion of men (49.6 percent). Most of the active farm women are employed on the family farm and rarely seek off-farm employment (see section 2.4).

The farm population has become older, especially in the last decade, as an increasing share of the younger population has taken jobs outside agriculture, leaving agricultural production as the domain of retired people and part-time farmers, i.e. those with additional employment outside farming (Kova¹i¹, 1995).

The average farm family has 3.7 members. Full-time farm families are smaller than average, partly due to the older age structure and the higher migration of young people from full-time farms. Slovenian (male) farmers often have problems finding partners (Barbi¹, 1993). On average, farm men marry between ages 26 and 27, while farm women marry two years younger.

Slovenian agriculture is based on family farming5. In 1991, there were 156 549 private family farms in Slovenia but only 20 percent of them were full-time farms (Kova¹i¹, 1995). Only 25 percent of all farms in Slovenia have more than 10 ha. The average Slovenian farm has 5.9 ha which is considerably smaller than the average farm in the majority of Western European countries. Agricultural land6 accounts for 866 400 ha, with 88 percent of the total owned privately. Almost 50 percent of the total agricultural land is farmed by part-time farmers, 28 percent by full-time farmers.

Agricultural production in Slovenia is geared toward animal husbandry (livestock/dairy farms), crop production, forestry and horticulture. Animal husbandry, the predominant branch, was intensified by a special programme for market-oriented production in the late 1970s. This resulted in market disparities, with a surplus of milk and meat and low production of all other basic agricultural products.

In the last 25 years, rural tourism (agrotourism, farm tourism) and other supplementary activities have been developed as alternative economic activities. This has created jobs and generated an additional source of income for farm and rural families (Verbole, 1997a).

To conclude this section, Slovenia's agricultural sector is characterized by:

Slovenia's possible membership in the European Union8 after the year 2005 will create even more challenges for the country's rural communities.

II Rural women

2.1 Selection and definition of the target group

In the last 50 years, Slovenian women have acquired legal equality with men, and equal opportunities for full-time employment and education through university level. The well-developed social welfare and health systems are an extra bonus for women (see section 3.1). While the socio-economic situation of rural women is similar to that of the majority of Slovenian women, farm women are influenced by another set of variables that makes their socio-economic position different from other women. In Slovenia, rural and farm women are not necessarily the same social groups (Barbi¹, 1994)9. They differ not only in their involvement with agricultural production and lifestyle, but also in their level of participation in public and political spheres. Therefore, in this report the term "farm women" is used to refer to women who are actively involved in agricultural production or are supported by an agriculturally active person, while the term "rural women" is used to refer to all women living in rural areas10, regardless of occupation or social status.

The 500 000 women living in Slovenia's countryside are factory workers, shopkeepers, teachers, nurses, white collar workers, scholars and farm women. The 60 000 farm women living on family farms11 represent 3 percent of the total female rural population. Almost one-third of these women have no income of their own (Barbi¹, 1994), and many live in difficult conditions. They are rarely present in any sphere of the country's public and political life at the local or national level. Even within the existing institutional framework that promotes all women's rights and interests, little attention is given to the problems of farm women and the quality of their lives, particularly during this period of transition. There has been a lot of research on other groups within Slovenia's female population, but the position of farm women seems to be a neglected and marginalized issue, even among researchers who are aware of gender issues.

2.2 Socio-economic position of farm and rural women

2.2.1 Education and training

The national educational system is well developed and, in most cases, provided by the state. There is little illiteracy in Slovenia (0.4 percent of the total population, 0.6 percent in rural areas) although the general level of education is rather low. Only 3 percent of Slovenia's population has a university degree or higher.

The Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia guarantees equal opportunities for education to all its citizens. Primary education is compulsory, and education is free up to graduate level. Primary education begins at age seven and continues for eight years. According to the latest study published by the Slovenian Committee for UNICEF (SCU), girls have the same educational opportunities as boys12. In fact, the majority of students enrolling in higher education, including universities, are women (OWP, 1994). More women than men enrol in professional programmes in pedagogy, medicine, economics, pharmaceuticals, chemistry, law, social sciences and tourism (SCU, 1996), while educational programmes in electrical engineering, forestry and carpentry are dominated by men.

The official statistics provide data on education for the entire Slovenian population. However, there is some specific data on the educational levels of rural and farm women. According to the 1991 census, most women living in rural areas have a primary education (64.6 percent), almost 30 percent have completed secondary school13, and 4.4 percent have a university degree or higher. The rural population is less educated than the urban population. The low educational level of this group is partly the result of the traditional belief that boys and girls remaining on the farm do not require much education (OWP, 1993).

The situation has improved in the past 20 years. Today's farm women have attained a higher level of education than their mothers and grandmothers. Girls from farm families are seeking new types of education. In the past, home economics was the most popular school programme for farm women14 and agricultural vocational education for farm men. Now, the interest in home economics is declining among women, but there is an increase in the number of female agricultural vocational students. Farm women are less interested in household subjects such as cooking or basic hygiene (Verbole and Mele-Petri¹, 1996). Home economics schools have poor images because they have failed to keep up with the needs of modern farm households and the younger generation of farm women who are not content with being only housewives.

Areas for action

The following areas for action have been identified, based on the literature research and data collected during interviews with farm women.

    · There is a demand for new types of education for farm women. Home economics programmes, for example, need to develop new curricula to fit the needs of modern farm women.

    · More information is needed regarding the various educational programmes that might be of interest to young farm women.

    · Farm women have a low image in society that needs upgrading in order to promote more interest in the area of farming.

    · Scholarship programmes for children from farm families need to be established. With the deteriorating economic conditions there will be less money to educate children.

2.2.2 Health system for farm and rural women

In the past 50 years, Slovenia has developed a quality national health care system. Public and private hospitals, health centres, doctors and dentists, school health services, pharmacies, and maternity clinics exist in rural as well as urban areas.

The Constitution (Act 57) requires the state to provide and regulate health care, pension and disability insurance systems, as well as unemployment insurance, and to provide protection for the socially disadvantaged. The existing social insurance system offers universal coverage for the employed, self-employed and farmers. Before independence, Slovenia was the only republic of the Former Yugoslavia that guaranteed basic health insurance to all citizens, including farmers.

The life expectancy for women in Slovenia is 77.4 years and for men, 69.5 years. Although women live longer, they do not necessarily live better lives. Less-educated women up to age 40 suffer from gall-bladder disease and lower back and leg disorders. An increase in the incidence of cervical cancer and breast cancer (70 per 100 000) has been recorded, however no data are available on the specific health status of farm women.

The Law on Medical Services ensures good accessibility to prenatal and follow-up health care15. Preventative health care for women and children is a compulsory component of primary health care which every community health centre must provide (Article 7 and 9).

In relation to health care and other social security rights of farm women, the following three laws are particularly interesting, namely the Law of Health Care and Health Insurance (Official Gazette RS 9/92 and 13192), the Law on Old-Age Pension and Pension for the Disabled (Official Gazette RS 12/92 and 5194) and the Law on Family Benefits (Official Gazette RS 65193 and 71194).

The Law of Health Care and Health Insurance guarantees that compulsory health insurance will provide full payment of health services to women for family planning, counselling, contraception, pregnancy and childbirth, as well as for preventative and curative health care for children and young people (Article 23). It also defines how farmers (both men and women), members of commercial farming households and other persons for whom farming is the only livelihood are insured. This requires that the income from owned land (cadastral income)16 or any other farm income (usually not valued) accounts for at least 50 percent of the personal income (reduced for taxes and contributions) per family member. The contribution is paid by the owner of the farm, thus, in most cases, farm women are insured by their husbands. Unmarried women are insured through their sons, or, in very few cases, have their own insurance, or they are not insured at all. The law also states that farmers who do not meet these requirements still have the right to be insured (as citizens).

The Law on Family Benefits is important for farm women as it defines the right to maternity leave. This was guaranteed to many, but not all, farm women in Slovenia in 1982, when a number of agricultural cooperatives signed an agreement that provided 105 days of maternity leave to farm women. In 1993, Parliament passed the Law on Family Benefits, formally giving farm women and men the same rights as non-farmers17. In order to exercise this right, farm families have to pay for old-age and disability insurance. According to the same law, children are entitled to child benefits, which are paid to the parent or guardian who actually supports the child.

The Law on Old-Age Pensions and Pensions for the Disabled requires all farmers (male and female) to take out old-age and invalid pension insurance. Due to a lack of financial means, farm women often stop paying for their pension and disability insurance, and the number of insured farm women is decreasing. In 1988, women accounted for 43.6 percent and men for 56.4 percent of old age and disability insured farmers. It can be concluded that even though farm women have the same legal rights as farmers, they do not necessary exercise them. This is often due to tradition and the patriarchal relations in farm families that put women in inferior positions when it comes to paying for insurance, regardless of their contribution to agricultural production and family life. It is expected that the social welfare rights of farm women are going to deteriorate. The above described welfare system was developed during the period of Former Yugoslavia's self-managing socialism. After gaining its independence, Slovenia decided to deregulate its welfare system according to Western European models. This may have far reaching consequences in a time when the economic situation of an ever-increasing population is getting worse18.

Areas for action

    · Specific research should be done on the health situation of farm and rural women.

    · Enact and implement legislation that will ensure farm women's rights to pensions and disability insurance in practice.

    · Lower insurance costs for each additionally insured farm family member.

2.2.3 Reproductive work

Housekeeping tasks are performed by women in the majority of Slovenian farm households. In almost one-half of the households (48.8 percent), responsibility for child care is not specified by couples in advance nor is it shared by household members. However, in one-third of all households (34.7 percent), looking after the children is the women's job (Barbi¹, 1994).

Men's responsibility for household tasks usually consists of doing minor household repairs (44.6 percent) and house painting (35.4 percent). In the majority of the farm households, men take care of legal affairs (58 percent), business at the agricultural cooperative (58.3 percent) and matters at the local community and/or municipality (52.6 percent).

Barbi¹ (1994) also compared the data on the division of household tasks with decision-making about household affairs. The results showed that, in spite of the fact that the majority of tasks in farm households are performed by the wife, most decisions concerning family/household affairs are made by wife and husband jointly or by all members of the household. In most cases, the husband and wife decide together about children's upbringing (37.3 percent) and schooling (35.4 percent), while in all other kinds of decisions, all members of the household (children as well as adults) take part in the decision-making. In a relatively small number of households in which either husband or wife alone makes decisions about family/household affairs, the traditional division of responsibilities has been retained with husbands making decisions about buying a car (24.7 percent) and whether to invest in foreign currency (21.9 percent), and wives deciding about household investments (16.8 percent) and buying clothes (24.2 percent).

Household tasks are much more clearly divided between women and men than are farming tasks. In the majority of farms, women take care of poultry (54.8 percent), feed pigs (53.8 percent), milk cows (49.9 percent), cultivate the vegetable garden (48.2 percent), and clean pig sties (35 percent).

Typically, the men make wine, machine and hand cut hay, cultivate orchards, do mechanical work in the fields, clean barns and feed cattle. Farm women do not have longer working hours than farm men (Barbi¹, 1994).

At the same time, it has to be pointed out that the situation and status of all farm women is not the same. Agricultural extension officers have defined two distinct groups of farm women-independent farm women and traditional farm women (Mele-Petri¹ and Verbole, 1996).

Independent farm women enjoy equal status with men (their fathers, husbands, brothers or sons), or have a slightly privileged status. In terms of property, these women live on smaller farms that are engaged in supplementary activities. Male family members are usually employed outside the farm (if no other sources of income are available) because most Slovenian farm families cannot survive on farming alone. Women are employed at home and enjoy economic independence, i.e. they have their own regular or occasional income. These women make their own decisions or actively participate in making all decisions concerning the farm, the family, the education of children, etc. They organize their own work and supplementary activities, such as beekeeping or agrotourism, and enjoy more free time than traditional farm women. They manage their own free time and activities.

Traditional farm women do not enjoy equal status with their male relatives in the household or on the farm. In this group, the men usually work exclusively on the farm, and outside employment is rare. The women usually make decisions which concern the household and the education of children. Because of their economic dependence on husbands or other male relatives, they are often perceived of as a source of labour which may or may not be appreciated within the family. The women from this group are limited or even restrained from decision-making regarding the issues related to the farm and farming. The husbands usually even reserve the right to manage the household funds. The husbands also manage their wives' free time and their social and other activities.

While farm women are willing and actually do share the decision-making with their husbands related to the work they are responsible for within the farm household, a reciprocal attitude from farm men is much less evident. With few exceptions, the male farm managers make decisions about farm operations in the majority of households, despite the fact that in most cases, farm women are responsible for performing farming activities within the farm yard.

Areas for action

    · Eliminate old traditions that put women in inferior positions.

    · Eliminate inequality in the sharing of power and decision-making at the household and farm level.

2.2.4 Productive work

Numerous farms families in Slovenia have been forced to seek additional income outside the farm, usually through the regular employment of male heads of households or children. It is less common for farm wives19 to migrate than for single farm women and rural women. Nowadays, there is a growing trend for more women than men to migrate from rural areas. The young (under 30) single farm women especially tend to seek outside employment, since they see it as a way to become independent and have a better life than their mothers. The mothers' positions and status are usually associated with economic dependency, little free time, loneliness and isolation, low self-esteem, and lack of information and public recognition. They often have insufficient money for their education, pension and health insurance, do not have their own means of transport, have few opportunities for entertainment and problems with in-laws (especially mothers-in-law). They appear to be subject to traditional attitudes that emphasise the belief that men are superior to women. These values limit both the creativity and initiative of farm women (Mere Petri¹ and Verbole, 1996).

When men are working off-farm, the efficiency of part-time farms depends mostly on women who take the responsibility for running the farm and performing most of the farm work. However, according to a survey conducted by Barbi¹, Rupena and Veseli¹ (1985), only 25 percent of farm women were classified as managers (12 percent were widows and 3 percent were single women). Even though farm women have a constitutional right to be farmers and to own land, this is often neglected in practice because of traditional attitudes toward women's roles and the patriarchal relations in the farm family. Therefore, it is not surprising that women are sole owners of only 17.5 percent of the family farms and co-owners of 28.2 percent. Only 23.7 percent of the co-owners belonged to the generation which managed it, 4 percent were owned by the parents of the current farm manager, and 0.5 percent by the farm wife and one of her parents (Barbi¹, 1993). Agricultural extension officers observed (1995) that the status of daughters-in-law was less favourable in families where the husbands' parents still owned the farm, especially if she was economically dependent on her husband, or worse, on the farm income. Further, research of Agricultural Advisory Service (AS) officers (1995) shows that farms where both partners are active in decision-making prosper, and the ownership and division of labour are not normally the central issue. More important are mutual respect, the benefit of the other person's opinion, and joint decisions concerning the farm, household, family and other essential issues, such as investments.

Areas for action

    · Stimulate an increase in the number of the female farm owners or co-owners.

    · Eliminate passiveness of farm women and increase their self-esteem.

    · Empower women to participate actively in decision-making.

    · Ensure off-farm employment for farm women who want it.

2.2.5 Extension services

In Slovenia, there are several extension service organizations for farm families, including the public Agricultural Advisory Service (AS), several private advisory services that deal with various issues related to agricultural production including big-farming, agricultural mechanization, home-economics, entrepreneurship, financing, etc., and non-agricultural counselling services such as the Institute for Employment.

The AS works closely with farm women20. It is a part of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. Since 1953, it has spread a wide web of extension officers all over the country and made contacts with practically every farmer and farm family, even in the most remote mountain villages. Through the years, it has tried to keep up with the demands and challenges caused by rural diversification21. In the early 1970's, the AS, together with the agricultural co-operatives, began training extension officers to work specifically with farm women. Consequently, working groups were set up throughout Slovenia. Today 48 of the 300 AS advisors specialize in developing supplementary activities for the farm family, such as organizing courses for farm women and organizing transfer of technologies to the farmers. All farmers have unlimited access to the public advisory service, as private advisory services are often expensive (no data on how many farmers use private extension services).

On-going training of counsellors is indispensable for maintaining a high standard at the AS, as pointed out by Kulovec and many advisory officers interviewed in the field for the purpose of this report (Mele-Petri¹ and Verbole, 1996). Within the last three years, for example, there have been six specialized training courses for AS officers related to rural development issues, although no specific attention has been given to the gender-sensitive dimension of rural development.

During interviews with farm women conducted by Mele-Petri¹ (1996), independent farm women especially expressed the need to gain more knowledge, particularly in marketing, management and entrepreneurship, because there are more and more farm women opening their own businesses (Mesl, 1996). Farm women with experience in agrotourism pointed out that there is an increasing need to know foreign languages (Kulovec, 1995). The same need was expressed by members of the Farm Women's Association. They believe that knowledge of foreign languages, especially English, will enable them to cooperate more effectively with farm women in neighbouring countries and in international organizations that work with farm-women and their problems (Logar, 1995). Traditional farm women, on the other hand, expressed the need for and interest in the programs that will help them increase their self-esteem and assertiveness. They said that being more comfortable with themselves would help them be more assertive in dealing with everyday problems (i.e. husband would not let them attend farm women meetings22) and would enable them to stand up for themselves in both their public and private lives.

Areas for action

    · More attention should be given to the general as well as professional education of farm women-to enable them to manage farms and empower them to fulfil the requirements for development of supplementary activities for the family farms, such as agrotourism, and consequently to gain economic independence.

    · Diversified strategies should be created for farm women, as their needs and problems vary significantly (see section 3.1)

III Political arena in a period of transition

3.1 Social and legal status

During the 50 years Slovenia was a constituent partner of the Former Yugoslavia, the position of Slovenian women reached high levels, in regard to accessibility of education, and employment23. The Law on Employment guarantees women an employment period five years shorter than men and the right to a full pension. Women and men with the same level of education and work responsibility receive the same wages24 (OWP, 1994, 1996). Women also obtained a well-organized health system and good legal and social security in regard to maternity leave, liberal abortion legislation, well-developed birth control and family planning facilities, and widespread and easily accessible public nursery schools, daycare centres and kindergartens.

However, since independence, some changes regarding the position and role of women in general have become apparent. There have been strong tendencies toward a renewal of the traditional role of the man/husband (SCU, 1996). At the same time, the constant problem of a woman's choice between motherhood and work has been further complicated by the changes in the existing social welfare system. So far, Slovenian women continue to work, and the level of unemployment of women has not decreased any faster than that of men. For example, in 1991 there was 14.4 percent unemployment Slovenia, 43.8 percent of which was women. In this aspect, the position of women in Slovenia differs from the position of women in other Central and Eastern European countries where the percentage of unemployed women increased rapidly in the transition period (OWP, 1994). However, if the situation deteriorates, it could cause additional problems within the Slovenian families that have traditionally depended on two incomes.

Although the system of self-managed socialism legitimized itself politically by formally proclaiming the political equality of women and men, it dealt with this as a marginal issue, and even explicitly rendered the autonomous political organization of women impossible. Within the former system, women nevertheless acquired a significant influence in social and political decision-making. At the end of the 1980s, the proportion of women in delegate assemblies and in government (on the level of the republic) reached 27 percent in the socio-political assembly and 12 percent in the government. At the same time, the growing economic and political crisis influenced the declining participation of women in formal decision-making but also influenced the formation of numerous autonomous female citizens' groups (NGOs). Slovenian women protected their right to abortion (this right is written in the Constitution), prevented the dismantling of the public child care network, managed to protect most of their social rights and rejected the proposal to extend maternity leave to three years, which would have put many women at a disadvantage.

Areas of action

    · Protect the rights and benefits that Slovenian women obtained in the past.

    · Develop a more holistic way of thinking about gender issues within the present Slovenian political framework.

    · Encourage women's participation in decision-making at local as well as national levels.

3.2 Government and political representation

With the introduction of the new political order, especially after the first multi-party parliamentary elections in the 1 990's, women's political power declined and the proportion of female deputies on the national level fell to less than 11 percent. However, in this period, the Office for Women's Politics and the Commission for Women's Politics were established within the governmental machinery, and women's factions were organized within the political parties (see 3.4.2). In the second parliamentary elections in 1992, many political parties put women candidates on their lists, and the percentage of women in Parliament increased to 14 percent, while the number of female ministers remained constant (Slovenia had 2 female ministers-the Minister of Law and the Minister of Labour, Family and Social Affairs). However, the 1996 election showed that women's political power is continuing to decline-only seven women remain in Parliament (83 men), and the new government is 100 percent male.

3.3 Governmental organizations (governmental machinery) and women

The Committee for Women's Politics25 (Odbor za zenske zadeve)

The Committee for Women's Politics, founded in 1990, is an arm of the Assembly of the Republic Slovenia. Its basic task is to ensure that women have the opportunity to achieve equal status in all spheres of life and to maintain the level of women's rights that have already been achieved in Parliament and society. The Committee also monitors the position of women in Slovenian society and puts proposals before the government and the Assembly meant to improve the position of women.

The Office for Women's Politics (Urad za zensko politiko)

The Office for Women's Politics was founded by government decree in 1992 as an independent governmental advisory service on women's issues. Its main goals are to have equal rights of men and women declared by law and to create equal opportunities for men and women in private, public and political life. Its main task is to monitor the position of women in Slovenia in order to realize women's rights as determined by the constitution, legislation and international conventions signed by the Republic of Slovenia. The Office also discusses regulations, acts and measures passed by the government of Slovenia and takes an active role in their elaboration. It proposes new initiatives and measures based on discussion with other women's organizations, groups and movements and prepares analyses and reports. The Office for Women's Politics performs these tasks in cooperation with ministries and other governmental and administrative bodies, as well as non-governmental women's groups and organizations. The Office for Women's Politics gives priority to issues concerning women in the labour force. All employees of the Office for Women's Politics are female.

The Ministry of Work, Family and Social Affairs (Ministrstvo za delo, druzino in socialne zadeve)

The Ministry of Work, Family and Social Affairs monitors the socio-economic position of children and families in Slovenia, including farm families. It also provides social help to rural families according to the cadastral income within the household income. In April 1995, 30 percent of farm families had the right to financial aid for their children. During the period of data collection for the purpose of this report, MOWSA was not very cooperative.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food (Ministrstvo za kmetijstvo, gozdarstvo in prehrano)

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food (MOA) deals with the issues of rural and agricultural development. It is indirectly concerned with the rural population and farm women. However, it has not initiated any gender-sensitive strategies within its policies or within the CRPOV26 programme. No single person is responsible for women's issues in agricultural and rural development. Currently, anything related to farm or rural women is mainly the domain of AS. Within AS, all 48 of the officers currently working on farm family and supplementary activities are female (Kulovec, 1995).

Areas of action

    · Improve the cooperation among the various governmental bodies that deal with issues concerning (farm) women.

    · Increase gender awareness within the MOA to draw more attention to the specific needs of rural women.

    · Incorporate a gender-sensitive perspective into rural development projects (an important component of future project planning).

3.4 Non-governmental groups and organizations (NGOs)

The NGOs27 in Slovenia began to flourish at the end of the 1980s, when the transition began from selfmanagement-oriented socialism to parliamentary democracy. The various women's NGOs considered questions concerning the position of women in society, with regard to such issues as family violence, child abuse, the freedom of sexual preference and the image of women as portrayed in the media and textbooks. Among the NGOs in Slovenia are the Initiative Society for Equal Opportunities of Men and Women (1991), the Advisory Office for Women, the Prenner Club, and the SOS Phone for Women and Children.

3.4.1 Farm Women's grassroots organizations

The Association of Slovenian Farm Women (Zveza kmetic Slovenije)

The Association of Slovenian Farm Women (AFW) was established in 1995 as a professional, non-political organization. More than 20 000 farm women have joined the AFW through its various societies. Within the framework of this organization, farm women can play an increasingly independent role and are taking an active part in local community life as well in higher levels of decision-making. The AFW works closely with the AS and plans to extend the cooperation, especially in education, extension and training.

However, the AFW has to overcome many obstacles, namely lack of information, lack of knowledge of foreign languages, and insufficient cooperation with other NGOs and governmental organizations involved with women issues.

The Farmers' Union (FU) is important for the entire farm population, including farm women. In the past, the FU successfully negotiated with the government to increase the prices of several agricultural products, lobbied for farming subsidies in areas with limited production conditions, etc.

Areas for action

    · Increase the cooperation between NGOs and the Office for Women's Politics.

    · Increase the institutional support to farm women.

    · Increase the visibility of the NGOs working with and for farm women.

    · Increase the cooperation among the NGOs working with and for farm women.

3.4.2 Women's factions and groups within the political parties

There are also women's factions within the political parties. The Female Network of the Liberal Democratic Party (1992) works to incorporate issues dealing with the position of women in society into a broader legal and political context.

The Women's Committee of the Social Democrats (1992) focuses mainly on matters pertaining to social issues, environmental preservation and education. The Slovenian Women's Association of the Slovenian Christian Democrats Party (1992) encourages women to participate actively in political life (the Christian Democrats tried to abolish abortion which led to a united protest by several women's NGOs) and is promoting the delegation of women to more responsible positions in politics. The Women's Group of the Socialist Party of Slovenia (1991) is concerned primarily with social issues, such as unemployment among women, a deteriorating health care system and its relevance for women, and changes in the pension system. Women at the United List of Social Democrats are fighting for women's equality in the political arena. In 1995, they proposed that women comprise 40 percent of political bodies (Delo, November 1995), and although they won the support of their own party, the Parliament did not pass the law that would ensure equal representation of both genders. There is also a female group within the Slovenian People's Party.

Unfortunately, different interests within the political parties often prevent the establishment of common action for (farm) women and limit the possibility of reaching consensus on what should be done and how to help (farm) women participate in development.

Areas of action

    · Stimulate cooperation among women's factions.

    · Increase lobbying for women.

IV Action plan

Strategic objectives

Objective 1: Improve quality of life and empower farm women through increased access to information, education, action research and institutional support.

Objective 2: Provide equal access to employment and natural resources.

Objective 3: Improve farm women's access to social and health services.

Objective 4: Promote gender equality as a basis for all relations between women and men in private and public life.

Objective 5: Promote a holistic concept of gender issues within the political system.





Social issues


Low self-esteem and self-assertion
Loneliness and social isolation
Lack of awareness and insight among farm women concerning their possibilities and potentials with regard to their role and position in private and public life

- design programmes to increase self esteem and awareness of farm women's own contribution to development in rural areas
- empower women through education and training
- establish social centres where women can meet and share information
- develop contacts and cooperation with the institutions and NGOs specialized in women's empowerment and leadership .


Oct 1997

Low educational levels
Poor access to higher education
Lack of information on available educational programs
Lack of financial funds for higher education

- design training courses and programmes to increase the level of education
- modernise programmes at the agricultural vocational schools
- design new curriculum for home economics schools
- create scholarship schemes for farm women


Oct 1997

Access to health services
Inadequate health insurance

- research the status of farm women's health
- inquire into current legislation that bases health insurance premium on cadastral income


Oct 1997

Economic issues


Inequality in farm women's access to natural resources
Inequality in the level of participation in decision-making at the farm household level

- introduce additional measures that will enforce farm women's constitutional rights to own land
- empower women through educational and training programmes


Oct 1997

Economic dependence

- empower farm women in entrepreneurial and commercial spheres through legislative initiatives and national programmes which will facilitate training schemes
- disseminate information on projects for farm women and on access to the services offered
- formulate adequate agricultural policy that promotes job opportunities for farm women


Oct 1997

Access to entrepreneurship

- disseminate information on farm women's successes in their professional and public careers, to set standards and values for young farm women
- create an annual award for outstanding achieve- meets of farm women
- establish special financing programmes to facilitate starting small businesses
- disseminate information about farm women's access to credit
- extend and improve local advisory and training programmes directed at farm women to increase the level of business opportunities


Oct 1997

Political issues


Low level of women's participation in the political decision-making process at the local and national level

- provide political training for women
- provide personal training in leadership, public speaking, self-assertion
- encourage farm women to take part in political processes through the extension service
- encourage women to set up or participate in women's organizations


Oct 1997

Lack of holistic thinking about gender issues within the governmental machinery

- research the present situation with regard to gender issues
- introduce legislation at the national level to secure 40 50 percent representation of both genders in all formal political bodies
- promote gender sensitive projects


Oct 1997

Lack of political support for NGOs that work with farm women

-establish support schemes for NGOs working with farm women
- promote horizontal and vertical cooperation


Oct 1997

Lack of cooperation among various governmental bodies that deal with issues concerning farm women

-establish a monitor to oversee the implementation of more gender-sensitive policy at the MOA
- establish an umbrella organization for all NGOs working with farm women


Oct 1997- Oct 1998

Other issues


Lack of gender-sensitive statistical data

- formulate a project (in cooperation with EU or other ECCs) on agricultural statistics that will be gender sensitive


Oct 1997- Oct 1998

Limited conditions for farming

- design subsidy schemes
- create adequate agricultural policies that promote supplementary sources for income generation


Oct 1997


- maintain and improve existing infrastructure in rural areas


Oct 1997-2000


The implementation of the National Action Plan for Women in Development will be a long-term process. The time schedule is tentative and can be used only for orientation. The key stakeholders have to decide whether they will support the proposed action plan.

As mentioned, rural women are not priorities of the Slovenian government. Although the interest of some governmental institutions has been raised, that does not necessary mean that a national platform for rural women will be established overnight. Thus, political lobbying for farm women seems to be one possible way to raise the issues. It is hoped that at least the female members and officials of different political parties will overcome individual conflicts and join in support of the implementation of the National Action Plan for Women. As the Association of Slovenian Farm Women matures and broadens it scope, it may be able to put pressure on the responsible institutions in order to bring out the problems of farm women. Further, the appointment of a specialist for gender-related issues in the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry might increase awareness of the needs of farm women as well as women in general.

Social issues should have priority, according to the farm and rural women and NGOs that were our key informants. The question of how to increase self-esteem and assertiveness of farm women needs to be addressed first. Economic issues also must be addressed but will contribute to improve the quality of life of farm women only if combined with programmes that increase self-esteem. The political and institutional issues are of great importance as well. It is believed that farm women can benefit only if cooperation and communication are established between the grassroots movements and governmental institutions.


The report and research results presented here would not have been possible without the help of a number of people, especially the Slovenian farm women who have shown interest in our work and participated in formulating Slovenia's National Action Plan that is presented in this report.


Barbi¹, A., et al. 1985. Vloga kmetic v razvoju kmetijstva in ohranjanju podeûelja. BF, Agronomija, ZSS and RCPK. Ljubljana.

Barbi¹, A. 1991. Prihodnost slovenskega podeûelja. Dolenjska zaloûba, Tiskarna Novo mesto, Novo mesto.

Barbi¹, A. 1994. An inventory of relevant data about farm women, farm families households and family farms, and ways of combining them. Paper presented at the Workshop on the socio-economic situation and status of women in the Eastern European countries, 17-19 January, Nitra, Slovakia.

Kova¹i¹, M. 1995. Socio-economic and size-structure of farms in Slovenia in the period 1981-1991. Institute of Agrarian Economics, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana.

Kozmik, V. 1995. personal communication.

Kulovec, M. 1995. personal communication.

Kulovec, M. 1995. Republic of Slovenia Report. Paper presented at the UNESCO Regional Workshop on Pluriactivity and Culture in Agriculture.

Logar, M. 1995. personal communication.

Law of Health Care and Health Insurance. Official Gazette RS, 9/92 and 13/92.

Law on Old-Age Pension and Pension for Disabled. Official Gazette RS 12/92 and 5194.

Law on Family Benefit. Official Gazette RS, 65/93 and 71/94.

Naprudnik, M. and Stani¹, I. 1995. From Rio ... to Piëece: Human activities in the environment. In: Barbi¹, A. and Wastl-Walter, D. (eds.) Sustainable development of rural areas: from global problems to local solutions: 45-60. Klagenfurter Geographische Schriften, Heft 13, Institute for Geography, Klagenfurt.

Pajntar, N. 1995. Spremljanje ekonomskega poloûaja kmetij v Sloveniji. In: Znanje - klju¹ni dejaunik za razvoj kmetijstva. Ministrstvo za kmetijstvo, gozdarstvoin prehrano: 97-105. Ljubljana.

Office for Women Politics. 1993. Measures taken for the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women. Preliminary report from the Republic of Slovenia. Ljubljana.

Office for Women Politics. 1994. Women in political parties. Ljubliana.

Office for Women Politics. 1995. Women in Slovenia. Ljubljana.

Siiskonen, P. 1996. Socio-economic situation and status of rural women in selected Central and Eastern European countries. University of Helsinki, Helsinki.

Slovenia in 1991-1992: report on economic development. Zavod republike Slovenije za makroekonomske analize in razvoj. Ljubljana.

Slovenian Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. 1994. Strategy for Agricultural Development. Ljubljana.

Urban¹i¹. A. 1995. personal communication.

Verbole, A. 1997. Rural tourism and sustainable development: a case on Slovenia. In: de Haan, H. et al (eds) 197215. In: de Haan, H. et al (eds.) Sustainable Rural Development. Ashgate, Aldershot, UK & Brookefield, USA.

Verbole, A.1997. The national action plan for integration of farm and rural women in development: a case study of Slovenia. Paper prepared for the UNESCO Congress: Rural Women's Role in the Development of Balkan Countries, 4-7 April, Thessaloniki, Greece.

Verbole, A. 1996. Making women visible: The Slovenian National Action Plan to promote the status of rural/farm women in sustainable rural development. Paper presented at the 9th World Congress of Rural Sociology, 22-26 July, Bucharest, Romania.

Verbole, A. 1996. Approaching EU: Slovenia's new rural development strategies. Paper presented at the 7th ESRS Summer School, 1-5 July, Veszprem.

Verbole, A. & Mele-Petri¹, M. 1996. National Action Plan for Integration of Farm and Rural Women in Development: A case study of Slovenia. Draft presented at the FAO Workshop, 18-21 January, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Verbole, A. 1995. Tourism development in the European countryside: costs and benefit. In: Barbi¹, A. and WastlWalter, D. (eds.) Sustainable development of rural areas: from global problems to local solutions: 60-75. Klagenfurter Geographische Schriften, Heft 13, Institute for Geography, Klagenfurt

1 Alenka Verbole is affiliated with the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, Biotechnical Faculty, Agronomy Department, Jamnikarjeva 101, Ljubljana. She is currently a PhD candidate at the Wageningen Agricultural University, Centre for Recreation and Tourism Studies.

2 Slovenia was declared an independent state June 25, 1991, and was recognized by most European countries on January, 15, 1992

3 It comprises a head of government, chosen from a coalition of parties in the National Assembly, and 17 ministers. The head of government comes from the party with the majority of votes in the elections.

4 Democratization, decentralization and privatization have led to major changes in Slovenia's development. Democratization has directly influenced the whole political, economic and social system causing changes in the distribution of power and leading to a new governmental structure, policy orientation and several structural adjustments. Decentralization has influenced the transformation of the regional systems and the establishment of local self-government. This has been the basis for regional developmental strategies with more equal distribution of power, direct support for local development, decentralization of support institutions and more opportunities for development of new programmes such as CRPOV. Privatization has been the basis for the entire economic restructuring of Slovenia.

5 This dates to 1953, when Former Yugoslavia abolished the agricultural policy that funded agricultural socialism based on collectives and cooperatives, because the collectivization had not been supported by the development of production means in general or agriculture in particular.

6 In Slovenia agricultural land includes cultivated land (fields, orchards, meadows) and pastures.

7 This includes alpine and sub-alpine areas and areas on the Karst plateau, areas 600 meters or more above sea level, or areas with slopes exceeding 20 percent or low soil quality. A law for stimulating the development of demographically threatened areas (Offcial Gazette of Republic Slovenia, 48/90 and 6/91 ) determines areas that receive extra funds for development, pay lower taxes and have priorities in developmental planning. This includes areas with low growth rates and lower life expectancy.

8 Slovenia became an 'adjoined member' of the EU June 10, 1996, with the right to observe meetings.

9 The same may be true in other European countries although "rural women' is often used as a synonym for "farm women'

10 Using a rural area residence as the criteria for categorizing women as "rural women "also requires a definition of rural area. Slovenia's official statistics distinguish between urban and non-urban areas. However, exclusively agricultural settlements have almost ceased to exist in Slovenia. Only mountainous or otherwise remote areas have settlements in which agriculture and forestry are still dominant (Naprudnik and Stanic, 1994).

11 Farm women living on family farms are not considered the same as women employed in state- or privately-owned agricultural production.

12 SCU (1966)determined that the percentage of men in higher level of education is lower then women and has proposed further study to determine why.

13 Secondary schools in Slovenia can be separated into vocational schools, high schools and colleges. Students enrol in secondary education at age 15, after finishing primary school. Vocational schools offer two, three or four year programmes. College programmes are from four to five years.

14 Home economics schools are usually referred to as "schools for housewives'

15 According to the WPO only 1.7 percent of pregnant women do not visit pre-pregnancy consultation offices (OWP, 1994). These offices are within the gynaecological departments of every local health clinic and offer information on fertility, pre-natal and post-natal health care, etc.

16 In April 1995,6.9 percent of full-time farm families were receiving financial help teased on cadastral income (MOWSA, 1995).

17 Employed or self-employed women were at that time entitled to 365 days of absence from work with 100 percent of their wages, or income-related compensation (SCU, 1996).

18 As already shown in the past (after the first democratic elections in 1990) women were the first ones to have their social rights cut off (right to work, for example).

19 Less than one-third of women seeking jobs in other sectors were farm women (Barbi¹, 1994).

20 Slovenia was the only republic of Former Yugoslavia that had an agricultural advisory service. It was established in 1 953.

21 The goals and objectives of the agricultural extension service for the year 2000 are to increase the quality of life in rural areas, to improve possibilities for sufficient income generation on family farms, to improve farm women's status as well as the status of the younger farming population, to preserve rural values, and to preserve the countryside's natural and cultural heritage.

22 There were no data available on violence within farm families, or abuse of farm women.

23 Women in Slovenia, unlike most women in Western Europe, already work full-time (96 percent of all employed women work full-time, i.e. 8 hours per day, 5 days per week while four percent work part-time, i.e. four hours per day, five days per week), and are therefore economically independent.

24 The difference between salaries of men and women is not more than 10 percent which is much lower than in most countries of the world.

25 The future of this committee is questionable. Some members of the government elected in 1996 do not feel that it is needed. A proposition has been made by some Parliamentarians to replace this committee with the Committee for Equal Opportunities (Delo, 1997)

26 The CRPOV was established in the 1991 to promote the development of rural areas through various development projects.

27 The term "non-governmental organization" (NGO) encompasses voluntary and non-profit organizations as well as foundations, for-profit organizations, educational institutions, churches and other religious groups, co-operatives, sports clubs, etc.

D/W6543E/1/1 0.97/600

Previous PageTop Of PageTable Of Contents