ICA Global Women's Committee (1997)

This document has been made available in electronic format
by the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA)
July, 1997
(Source: ICA Review, Vol. 90 No.2 - Annual Report 1996-1997,

ICA Global Women's Committee 1996/1997
Report by Katarina Apelqvist/MariaElena Chavez-P

Executive Committee

Chairwoman:		Katarina Apelqvist, Sweden
Vice Chairwoman: 	Bernadette Wanyonyi, Kenya
Secretary:		MariaElena Chavez-P (ICA)
Members: 		Natsuko Yuasa, Japan
			Irene Drazewska, Poland
			Chieftainess Chiyaba, Zambiaa
			Galina Kisseleva, Russia

1996/1997 has been another year of mixed fortunes for the Global
Women's Committee. Although we have 59 members from 34
countries across each Region, it is difficult for most of the
members to find the necessary funding to attend the Annual  
Global Meeting.  It is of even greater concern that
Executive Committee Members are currently unable to meet their 
commitment to attend Executive Committee meetings because their 
organizations were unable to fund them.

Executive Meeting - Kuala Lumpar, Malaysia
The Global Women's Committee was delighted to be invited to hold 
its Executive Committee meeting in conjunction with the Regional 
Assembly for Asia and the Pacific in June 1996. This gave us the 
opportunity to support the proposal for the formation of a Regional
 Women's Committee and to lobby for its acceptance by the Assembly.  
It is expected that the first ICA Regional Women's Committee for
 Asia and the Pacific will be formalized by the Regional Assembly 
when it meets in Korea in 1998.

Annual Global Meeting -  San Jose, Costa Rica
Following the Global Women's Committee's decision to take the annual 
Global Meeting to each Region in turn we met in Costa Rica in November 
1996 in conjunction with the Regional Assembly for the Americas.  We 
also had the opportunity to participate in the First Continental Forum for 
women.  This two day conference was the culmination of three years 
campaigning on the theme, 'Who are we; what do we want?'  The 
resulting 'platforma' will form the response of women co-operators in 
Central and Latin America to the UN Platform for Action and sets out 
to tackle topics such as violence against women, population control, 
and poverty and the environment.   

Throughout the campaign there has been an awareness of the need for a 
formal regional women's committee and it is hoped that the Americas 
will form the next ICA Regional Women's Committee.

One of the advantages of meeting in different regions is the 
opportunity it gives members to exchange ideas and experiences face 
to face. Members also submit Country Reports outlining the work in
 their organizationsand countries throughout the year. 

Although statistical data is difficult to come by, most report an 
increasing number of women in middle and top management positions 
and that more women are participating in all aspects of their own 
co-operatives.  Gender awareness programmes have helped change 
the attitudes towards women , but there still is a need for segregated 
training to allow women to develop self-confidence and skills in 
ways which suit them.

The adoption of the new Co-operative Principle -- Concern for 
the Community --has been of particular relevance to women. As the 
prime care-givers in society, women have found new outlets for their skills. 
In many other areas where public sector provision is being reduced, 
the co-operative sector is providing alternatives to fill the gaps. Not 
surprisingly this provision is often organised and run by women. 

In other areas, notably Japan, where welfare provision for the elderly is in 
its early stages of development, rural women have set up neighbourhood 
support schemes to help those in need.

In Central and Eastern Europe women are still having to cope with the 
problems brought about by the fall of communism and its effects on 
co-operatives in the Region. New laws do not automatically bring 
benefits for women and there is a continuing need to train women 
in the skills they need to deal with soci-economic changes.

As always the Global Women's Committee has tried to initiate change 
both within and outside the Co-operative Movement. However,
 innovative ideas are not enough and the search for funding for projects, 
seminars, and training is rarely fruitful, making it difficult to fulfil our goals.  

The Global Women's Committee again finds itself at a time of change. 
One of the most important is the appointment of MariaElena Chavez-P, 
Focal Point for Gender Issues at ICA Geneva, as the Committee's Secretary.

Also, the Chairwoman, Katarina Apelqvist, will retire from the Committee
 later this year and it will be difficult to find a member Organisation willing 
to finance the expenses of the Chairwoman. For many women there only 
real contact with ICA comes through seminars and meetings where the 
Chairwoman is the speaker.

After 30 years the Global Women's Committee still has a long way to go 
to reach its main objective: to have equal representation of women and 
men on every ICA Specialised Body, Regional Assembly and Board. 

As we move into the next century we need strong gender policies 
and real commitment to using the skills and experiences of both women 
and men. 

Only when 'male-streaming' has truly been replaced by 'main-streaming' will 
the Global Women's Committee feel able to dissolve itself, in accordance 
with its Constitution. 

Until then the need for the Global Women's Committee as an ICA
 Specialised Body will continue.