This document has been made available in electronic format by the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) 

Report of ICA Global Women’s Committee  to the General Assembly (1998)

July, 1998
(Source: ICA Review, Vol.91 No.2 - Annual Report 1997-1998, pp. 78-80)


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 (Zambia); Galina Kisseleva (Russia)

The Global Women’s Committee participated in and organized a number of activities during 1997 under the leadership of the Chairwoman, Katarina Apelqvist aimed at advancing the status of women in the co-operative movement.

The Chair of the Committee ensured that dialogue on gender issues continue within ICA and member fora.  The Chair engaged in extensive discussions with members of the ICA Board and Secretariat regarding the proposed ICA Rule changes to ensure that the Rules promote gender equality and balance with ICA decision-making fora.  She also provided assistance to the regional offices in the creation of regional women’s committees - the Americas Continental Women’s Committee and the Asia/Pacific Regional Committee to be officially instituted in 1998.

Other activities of the Committee include participation and organization of meetings:

The Chairwoman, Rahaiah Baheran, and Raija Itkonen (members of the Committee) participated as speakers in the Regional Conference on Women in Decision-making in Co-operative jointly organized by the Asian Women in Co-operative Development Forum AWCF and the ICA Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific in Tagatay City (Philippines) from 7-9 May 1997.  The Chairwoman presented a report to the conference on the Global Situation of Women’s Participation in Leadership and Decision-Making and noted that although the number of women in leadership positions was still very low, progress had been made in recent years. She stressed the need for co-operatives to carefully analyze their policies to ensure that women have equal access to decision-making positions and that gender policies be adopted.

The first Executive Meeting of 1997 was held in St. Petersburg (Russia) at the invitation of Centrosoyuz of Russia from 5-6 June 1997.  It preceded the jointly organized Women’s Conference (see below).  Items discussed included activities since the last Plenary in Costa Rica - meeting representation, the questionnaire on gender sent out by the ICA President (follow-up to the ICA Resolution on Gender), proposed changes to the ICA Rules and implications to gender balance in ICA (report on consultations with ICA President and Director-General), and preparations for future meetings.  The meeting was followed by a study visit to consumer co-operatives in the St. Petersburg region to meet with women co-operators and exchange views and experiences.

The Women’s Conference held on 7 June 1997 in St. Petersburg addressed the theme “Co-operatives in a Market Economy: Women’s Contributions and Perspective”. Over 100 women participated in the conference.  The Global Women’s Committee invited a keynote speaker from Sweden, Anne-Marie Satre, and presentations were made by the Chair of the Committee, Katarina Apelqvist as well as by ICA Board and Global Women’s Committee member Raija Itkonen.  The conference noted concern that transition to a market economy could create increasing inequalities between rich and poor and women and men if it were to be based strictly on economic premises.  Social issues needed to be addressed and new and more flexible ways of working needed to be adopted if women were to have an increasing role to play in shaping the transition. The conference contributed to increasing women co-operator’s dialogue on the future.

The second Executive Committee was held on 11 September 1997 in Geneva (Switzerland) and focused on the upcoming elections in the Committee (members and Chair), the concern over the proposed ICA rule changes and their effects on women’s representation in decision-making positions within the ICA and the Women’s Conference.

The annual Plenary Meeting was held in Geneva on 12 September 1997 with over 50 participants from nearly 40 ICA member organizations. The Chair reported on activities since the last Plenary.  Discussion centred on the upcoming ICA General Assembly and the proposals from the Global Women’s Committee to the ICA Board and General Assembly regarding the proposed ICA Rule changes and agreed to the following:

- “The ICA Global Women’s Committee finds the amendments to the ICA Rules regarding the co-option of women to the ICA Board unacceptable and calls on the members of the ICA General Assembly not to support the proposed changes…
- “The ICA Global Women’s Committee finds the proposed addition to the Standing Orders regarding the composition of the Election Committee unacceptable and calls the members of the ICA General Assembly not to support the proposed addition.”

It further agreed to propose a new text regarding the Election Committee:

- “The Election Committee is composed of eight (8) persons including the Vice-Presidents and is gender balanced”.

Members also expressed concern over the lack of gender balance in the specialized bodies of the ICA.

The Committee also elected a new Committee based on nominations sent from ICA member organizations.  The Committee is now made up of 52 members from 29 countries.  In addition, a new Executive Committee and Chair was elected:

Chairwoman: Britten Lagerkvist Tranströmer (Sweden)

Vice-Chairs: Galina Kisseleva, Centrosojuz (Russia)
  Nargis Rashid, Sindh Government Employees Co-operative (Pakistan)

Members: Rahaiah Baheran, National Co-operative Organization of Malaysia
  Vanda Guiliano, Legacoop (Italy)
  Maria Negoita, CENTROCOOP (Romania)
  Ana Isabel Solano, Americas Continental Women’s Committee
  Hanna Wroblewska, National Co-operative Council (Poland)

Activities for 1998 include focus on how to increase women’s participation in the specialized bodies, participation in the ICA Research Committee’s International Conference which will focus on women, possible joint management activities with the ILO CoopNet, and the organization of meetings of the Committee.

The new Executive met briefly following the Plenary.