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Project information

Project team

Tim Leibert, Karin Wiest, Matthias Schaarwächter


Ministry of Regional Development and Transport Saxony-Anhalt (Germany, Leadpartner); Educational Institute of Industry and Commerce Saxony Anhalt (Germany); South Danubian Regional Development Limited Company (Hungary); South Danubian Regional Resource Centre (Hungary); University for Adult Education Murska Sobota (Slovenia); Institute for Social Development Murska Sobota Slovenia); Innovation Region Styria GmbH (Austria); ZAM Styria GmbH - Regional Contact Office for Women (Austria); Podlaska Regional Development Foundation (Poland); Rzeszow Regional Development Agency, (Poland); B-4 Association (Poland)

Duration of project


Funded by

European Union (INTERREG IVB)

Further information

Karin Wiest
Tel.: +49 89 55 26 59 74

Tim Leibert 
Tel.: +49 341 600 55-188


Realizing a Transnational Strategy against the brain-drain of well-educated young women

Out-migration of young well-educated women from structurally weak rural regions in Europe exacerbates the economic, demographic and social problems of the territories concerned. Age- and sex-selective migration reinforces demographic shrinkage, has negative impacts on the regional image and thins out social networks. Beyond that, negative impacts on the regional economy are conceivable. A skills shortage in particular in female-dominated areas of the labour market and the service sector is likely to become a negative locational factor. Against this backdrop the project WOMEN aimed at developing concrete measures and at evaluating strategies that are useful to counteract the brain-drain of well-educated and skilled young women. The Focus was on the following questions:

  • How to improve the job prospects and labour force participation of young women in regions that are challenged by out-migration?
  • How to enable local businesses to strengthen the job opportunities of young women in the region? How important is the reconciliation of work and family in this context?
  • How to trigger positive effects on regional development via image campaigns that target young women?

WOMEN built on results of the ESPON project SEMIGRA conducted by the IfL. In the framework of WOMEN, the recommendations of the former project should be tested and implemented. Beyond that, a long-term action plan has been developed. Associated with a transnational strategy developed by the project team pilot initiatives were launched in six case study regions. The following measures were addressed:

  • The implementation of a network for business women and skilled employees in order to improve the career opportunities of women and to foster the ties to the region.
  • A demography coaching to raise awareness for the challenges of demographic change and the needs of female employees with regard to the personnel policy of regional businesses.
  • The development of image campaigns with regard to the internal and external perception of the regions. Young well-educated women are the main target group of the campaigns which will focus on the career opportunities of young people.

The investigated regions that are all affected by a brain-drain of well-educated women were: Sachsen-Anhalt (Federal State of Saxony-Anhalt, Germany), Dél-Dunántúl (Southern Transdanubia, Hungary), Pomurska statisticna regija (Pomurska statistical region, Slovenia, Steiermark (Federal State of Styria, Austria), Województwo podlaskie (Podlaskie voivodeship, Poland), Województwo podkarpackie (Podkarpackie voivodeship, Poland).


Leibert, Tim (2014): Frauenerwerbstätigkeit in Deutschland und Europa. In: Nationalatlas aktuell 2014, 1,

Wiest, Karin / Rauhut, Daniel (2014): Rural development, female mobility and the provision of SGI – a target group oriented approach. In: ESPON (eds.): Second ESPON 2013 Scientific Report, Luxembourg, 61-67.

Wiest, Karin / Leibert, Tim (2013): Wanderungsmuster junger Frauen im ländlichen Sachsen-Anhalt: Implikationen für zielgruppenorientierte Regionalentwicklungsstrategien In: Raumforschung und Raumordnung, 71 (2013) 6: 455-469