Cooperatives of the Americas represented at the Regional Forum on enterprises for Gender Equality

20 Aug 2014

Over 170 delegates from 14 countries in Latin America, including representatives from the Co-operative Movement met in Cartagena to discuss on how to promote gender equality in both public and private sectors. At the second Regional Forum on Enterprises for Gender Equality, participants looked at different strategies to advance gender equality, while sharing best practices.

They also addressed issues such as increasing professional development and inclusive communication within enterprises and occupational segregation. One of the conclusions of the forum was that gender equality was more present in co-operative enterprises, due to their values and principles.

Representing the Co-operatives of the Americas, Inés Mendoza was one of the panelists presenting the results of the regional study “Gender Equality in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and co-operatives”. The study, which is part of UNDP’s gender equality strategy for Latin America and the Caribbean, provides an insight into the role played by co-operatives in promoting gender equality.

According to the study there are over 13,500 co-operatives in the region with 33 million members that employ around 334,000 people. A survey carried out in 2013 by Co-operatives of the Americas across 16 states in Latin America revealed that women represent 52% of the co-operative membership. 

However, this percentage is not reflected in the number of women on co-operative boards, with eight out of ten members being men. Moreover, around 63% of managerial positions are occupied by men. The survey also shows that a higher percentage of women are involved in Education Committees – 47%.

To help achieve even greater gender equality within co-operatives, the UNDP has signed agreements with Co-operatives of the Americas and the Confederation of Caribbean, Central and Sudamerican Co-operatives (CCC-CA).

The agreements include commitment to promote studies and research related to gender equality in co-operatives, participate in meetings and share best practices and promote the inclusion of co-operatives in certification programmes in Gender Equality Management Systems.

Since 2003 over 1,700 enterprises and organisations from 12 countries have obtained gender equality certifications from the United Nations Development Programme. Co-operatives of the Americas is looking to increase the number of co-operatives with gender equality certification in the region and also develop certification for co-operatives of small and medium size.

Photo: Inés Mendoza of the Cooperative Development Gender Equity Committee of the International Co-operative Alliance of the Americas speaking at the Forum in Cartagena.