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Research to Benefit Social and Economic Health of Rural Canadian Communities

(March 21, 2005) The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) in Ottawa, Ontario, is investing $1 million to help rural women improve the economic health and viability of their communities.

According to a press release issued by SSHRC, while policymakers focus on the importance of cities to Canada's competitiveness in the global market, Canada's rural communities are being left behind. Declining incomes, fewer job options and disappearing social services are forcing women in rural communities to work more, earn less and care for both children and aging relatives in growing isolation. Farm incomes, for example, have dropped so low that many farmers (a growing number of whom are women) are being forced to compete for jobs as unskilled workers in the nearest town.

Led by Belinda Leach, university research chair in rural gender studies at the University of Guelph in Ontario, a team of nearly 20 Canadian researchers and community organizations, including the National Farmers' Union and the Canadian Auto Workers, will identify the unique challenges of rural women, and examine better approaches to meeting those needs and getting their voices heard.

'Professor Leach and her research team are embarking on research that will have a direct impact of the lives of rural women and the communities they live and work in,' said David L. Emerson, minister of industry and minister responsible for SSHRC. 'Indeed, the benefits of knowledge generated through research extend to all areas of Canadians' lives.'

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