The National Rural Parliament brought together rural developers ­­­– MDI involved as a partner

MDI acted as a partner in the National Rural Parliament event at the end of September, 2021. As part of the event, we held two virtual workshops and participated in the Kumppanitori (partner market). Our workshops brought together experts to discuss multi-location and new job opportunities in rural areas from a womens’ perspective. At our Kumppanitori, we also discussed the notion of what constitutes the good life in the municipalities, the feminist approach to vitality policy and the vitality of the rural communities in the context of the HYVIS project.

How to multi-locate in the countryside? -workshop discussed ways for the state, provinces, municipalities and companies to promote multi-location work and living in rural areas. In rural areas, remote working can be promoted both by attracting multi-location remote workers and by creating place-independent jobs. Broadband infrastructure is one of the most important factors in promoting multi-location and therefore needs to be in order. The workshop underlined that the state should support broadband construction in areas where it is not market-driven and in municipalities with challenges in respect of self-financing. In addition, there is a need for aggregated information on remote working facilities and vacant business premises and apartments. Employer attitudes are also considered to fundamentally affect the progress of remote work. Bold experiments are thus required, such as a remote working voucher for a network of remote working hubs, various housing experiments and seasonal place-independent entrepreneurship. On the whole, increasing communality is seen as promoting cooperation between newcomers and locals as well as ensuring access for all to the benefits of regional development.

Rural women and models of knowledge work -workshop looked at the gendered nature of knowledge work and reviewed the opportunities that women offer in terms of rural knowledge work and vice versa. Based on the UUTTU project, Rasmus Aro presented the situation in respect of women’s information work in rural areas. The findings show that the genderization of working life in Finland also affects the rural knowledge economy: the share of women in knowledge work is small, and in rural areas the share of women here is even lower. The workshop discussed how the progress of the knowledge economy and digitalisation will benefit rural women, as remote working, made possible by knowledge work, creates opportunities to work and live in rural areas. Supporting place-independent female entrepreneurship is an essential part of promoting the knowledge economy internally in rural areas. Specific actions are also needed to create female entrepreneurship and knowledge economy related jobs in rural areas. From the point of view of regional development, the workshop also highlighted that the importance of retaining women, especially young women, in rural areas should be taken into account in various programmes and strategies.

At the end of the National Rural Parliament, the Rural Policy Statement 2.0 was published, summarising insights from the dozens of conversations held in the spring of 2021 at  the Ideafestivaali, workshop discussions in the National Rural Parliament and the views of rural youth as an important factor for the future in this field. The statement looks at what it takes to make a future in rural areas.

The National Rural Parliament is a societal rural event for anyone interested in the future development of rural areas and national rural policy. The next event will be held in Nurmes in 2024.