The threat of depopulation in the rural areas making up what has become to be known as "empty Spain" is currently an extremely urgent national issue. Women are a fundamental pillar of rural sustainability, but the lack of decent living conditions has led to their mass exodus to the country's cities. We analysed the factors undermining their health and well-being, thus leading to their dissatisfaction and their subsequent desire to abandon the countryside for a better life. A mixed methodology was employed, combining qualitative and quantitative data collection techniques. For data collection, an ad hoc questionnaire was developed before being administered to members of the Rural Development Groups of the Celtiberian Highlands, while some of their number were also interviewed. Rural women experience personal dilemmas that prompt them to migrate. These include choosing between living in the place where they were born, close to their families and neighbours, and a decent productive job, the availability of basic services and a broader range of leisure opportunities, among other aspects. It is essential to acknowledge the socio-economic importance of women's work, to identify invisible burdens and their risks and to adopt measures that facilitate the reconciliation of work and family life.