The Italian Living Labs of the three-year project “Grass Ceiling – Gender Equality in Rural and Agricultural Innovation System” are led by two partners, an academic co-leader (CIHEAM Bari) and a practitioner co- leader (Legacoop Puglia). The activities will be all run in cooperation with the “Biodistretto delle Lame”, which is collaborating in supporting the innovation processes and connecting it with the territorial dimension and specificities.
The Italian Living Lab of the three-year project “GRASS CEILING – Gender Equality in Rural and Agricultural Innovation Systems” are led by two partners: an academic co-leader (CIHEAM Bari) and a practitioner co-leader (Legacoop Puglia). The activities will all be run in cooperation with the Biodistretto delle Lame, which is collaborating in supporting the innovation processes and connecting them with the territorial dimension and specificities.
The first meeting was held on June 20th in Bitonto (Ba) – Italy, where seven women innovators met to work on their personal empowerment, their own identity as innovators and on how to increase awareness of their role as agents of change.
This was the first Italian meeting of the Living Lab and associated focus group and aimed to foster the empowerment of women in rural areas and contribute to the implementation of the EU Gender Equality Strategy.
Among the participants, there is a diverse group of innovators and enterprises. One owns a farm, another produces lavender. Some own a vegetable garden laboratory and raise 250 chickens, others have a bookshop that organises communities of readers and literary walks in Alta Murgia, near Bari, southern Italy. Another innovator is a cultural worker who advocates for biodiversity, slow tourism, local agricultural production and rural culture. There is also a cooperative member of a rehabilitation community for drug addicts who has set up a vegetable garden to provide young people opportunities of the future; and another participant has a longstanding working experience in care work.
During the session the women worked on obstacles, difficulties, prejudices, and stereotypes by playing with Lego, the bricks used by children to build dreams and be creative. As Katia De Luca, project manager of Legacoop Puglia, said: “they worked on the identity of female innovators through the ‘Lego Serious Play’ methodology, in which they used the bricks to build symbols and metaphors of their own experiences and representations, strengthening their self-awareness as actresses of change in their own contexts and communities”. Patrizia Pugliese, project manager of CIHEAM Bari, added: “we started listening to the voices of women in the Bio-distretto delle Lame, a fertile context of interesting initiatives managed by women, who immediately proved to be open and interested in a critical and participatory discussion on gender issues”. The participants shared needs, suggestions, insecurities and ideas on how to continue the path of innovation and great enthusiasm for the chosen methodology.