Welcome, Rural Innovators!

The first Women’s Academy for Rural Innovation took place in Europe’s largest region – Spain’s Castilla y León – from the 23rd to the 28th of October 2022. Participants experienced a week to remember!

The 15 ambitious women embarked on a journey of discovery. Mornings were taken up with a combination of panels, workshops, roundtables and masterclasses, while the afternoons included teamwork sessions. There was also a period of free time every day for participants to relax and reflect on the days’ learning. Every evening, participants enjoyed a traditional Spanish dinner prepared with local produce.

With a line-up of top-level experts and mentors, participants learned new skills and approaches and had the chance to discuss how new tools could be implemented in their own rural environment. They learned practical skills such as public speaking and setting up a business which will equip them to get out there and make a difference in their community. We hope that they made lasting friendships with participants from similar walks of life in other countries.


Day 1

Participants arrived and settled into their surroundings. They explored the area and then met both tutors and each other for the first time. The programme was introduced in more detail and participants spent their first evening together, getting to know one another over a traditional Spanish dinner.

Day 2

The Inaugural Ceremony marked the official beginning of The Women’s Academy for Rural Innovation and featured welcome remarks and introductions from some of the key speakers and mentors. Participants then began their first activities of the week with Group Work and a Teambuilding session dedicated to Exploring Europe’s Hidden Gems: A taste of Bajo Tiétar. This was followed by free time and an evening gathering.

Day 3

The day began with a deep dive into New Technologies to Foster Women’s Employment and Competitiveness in Rural Areas. It was followed by a panel discussion on Empowering Women to Foster Rural Development in the Digital Era. After lunch the first Inspiring Session exploring a long-term vision for Europe’s rural areas took place. After some group work and free time, the day ended with a Teambuilding session on Nature’s potential for value creation.

Day 4

On the fourth day the focus was on Entrepreneurship, with a workshop on Securing Funding as a Female Entrepreneur and a panel session on challenges and achievements facing SMEs and Start-ups in rural areas. The afternoon addressed Digital Technologies to strengthen Europe’s Farming sector, followed by Group Work. Before dinner, participants took part in two quite different sessions: the first examining Innovation against gender-based violence; and the second, an opportunity to disconnect from the world and connect with your inner self through exercise and breathing exercises designed to build strength and alleviate stress.

Day 5

The day kicked off with a workshop on Pitching like a Pro that gave participants practical advice on speaking in public and making an impact. It was be followed by a panel discussion on Agritech, Medtech, Edtech: Innovation for a sustainable future. The afternoon featured a deep dive on Mainstreaming Equality and Innovation in the Common Agricultural Policy and a Spotlight on The Global Success of Local products. The remaining part of the day was taken up with Group Work and free time before dinner.

Day 6

The final day began with the Group Presentations where participants pitched the projects they have worked on together all week. There will also be the final Panel session on the subject of Digital Infrastructure for a World of Opportunities: Connecting the Unconnected. Later that day participants got ready for the Farewell Gala and Awards Ceremony, where they received their certificates and the week-long programme drew to an official close.