Movement can give a strong voice to women

27 Feb 2013

Cooperatives can empower women and strengthen gender equality, according to two of the ICA's leaders.

President Dame Pauline Green and Gender Equality Chair María Eugenia Pérez Zea issued statements in advance of International Women's Day (8 March) outlining how the co-operative movement can help the raise the voice of women.

Dame Pauline said it is time for the co-operative movement to become a movement for the economic, social and political emancipation of all women.

In what she described as the “real co-operative message”, Dame Pauline said: “Over the last four decades, the position of women has made some progress, however, it is still too little and too long in coming… Let us insist that today’s world demands equality for each individual whether man or woman.”

She added: “Co-operative businesses have done so much to help women onto the ladder of economic activity.  With that comes community respect, political legitimacy and influence.”

Traditional approaches to governing society are simply no longer relevant, she explained.

“Having more women in key decision-making places in political, economic and social decision-making at all levels in society is the way to move away from the sort of decision-making that has served us so poorly in recent years,” said Dame Pauline.

She added: “Building a better world is about allowing each person to flourish and fulfil their potential — nothing else will do.”

María Eugenia Pérez Zea, the Chair of the ICA Global Gender Committee, said it has become urgent to redefine the stereotypes of power and leadership about women to make sure they enjoy equal treatment in the decision-making processes.

She added that many studies have shown there is an essential link in obtaining equal rights for women and reducing poverty, improving health and education alleviating the climate change effects and making headways towards a more sustainable development.

All these objectives are shared by the world co-operative movement, are interdependent and support gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Ms Pérez Zea invited every co-operative in the world to give the highest priority in its policies to the equal recognition of rights and opportunities to women. She added: “ICA recognises that the Gender Agenda has gained more relevance than ever before and it is our opportunity to seek even more equality for women — by showcasing that our leadership is the most effective model for socio-economic development.”