Michael Dower

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Our wonderful friend, mentor and supporter, Michael Dower, sadly passed away on Monday November 7, 2022, just a week before his 89th birthday. In his lifetime, Michael was a force in European rural development. He was instrumental in developing the European Rural Parliament partnership and process, including co-ordinating and writing the foundational document ‘All Europe shall Live’, based on a survey of all of our European Partners, from which he developed the first ERP Manifesto at the 2nd ERP Gathering in Austria in 2015. These have remained our baseline documents.

In addition to the ERP, Michael’s work in rural development was extensive. He co-founded and served as coordinator of PREPARE - Pre-accession Partnership for Rural Europe, supporting the launch of many national and regional rural movements and rural parliaments in Central and Eastern Europe. He founded and served as President of ECOVAST – the European Council for the Village and Small Town. He co-founded and animated the European Agricultural Convention (EAC), now ARC2020. He was a very active member of Forum Synergies and many other European civic initiatives. He was co-creating the CURE - Convention for Urban and Rural Europe.

Prior to his post-retirement activism in European rural civil society, Michael managed the Peak District National Park in England; was Director General of the Countryside Commission for England and Wales; and was Professor of European Rural Development at the University of Gloucestershire. He edited and promoted the European Landscape Convention for the Council of Europe.

Michael was passionate about rural areas, their people, landscapes, land use and ecology. In the later years of his life, he worked tirelessly to advocate on the climate change emergency, and led local woodland management projects, working with school children, where he lived in Dorset, England.

Michael was, and is, an inspiration to us all. He urged us to be bold and brave and urgent in our work. His legacy lies within us and our continuing, collective work to support and develop rural Europe – our wonderful home.

Thank you Michael!

The Rural Development Network of North Macedonia (RDN of NM) together with the National Federation of Farmers (NFF), every year organizes an event to mark the International Day of Rural Women – October 15. This year's celebration which was supported by the Swedish Development Organization* We Effect, was just a continuation of last year's event and an opportunity to see the results of the Declaration on Improving the Economic and Social Position of Rural Women which was signed by the RDN of NM, NFF, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Economy, the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy and the cooperation between the institutions and NGOs.

The event gathered more than 200 representatives of government institutions, civil society organizations from the country and the Balkans, as well as other rural stakeholders. Among the visitors, 13 people from Western Balkan countries, as representatives of the Balkan Rural Development Network (BRDN) participated at this event. Considering that the Western Balkan countries share the history, traditional values and experience similar problems and challenges in rural areas, the idea was to bring representatives of the members of BRDN, in order to share our positive example of recognizing and celebrating the important role of women in rural areas and addressing the inequalities and challenges they are facing.

Within the public discussion on the theme "Ownership of Agricultural Land and Property - Challenge for the Rural Woman”, Marijana Jovovic, as representative of the Rural Development Network of the Republic of Montenegro, shared information about the current and former situation of rural women in Montenegro, which is pretty much the same as to the other Balkan countries. According to the statistics, only 12.9% of holders of family farms in Montenegro are women and 3% of women own agricultural property.

Hopefully, this positive practice will motivate the rest of the BRDN members to initiate activities to mark this important date and to raise the voice of the women in rural areas in their countries.

*See more on Institutional Development of RDN of NM financed by the Swedish Development Organization “We Effect”


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