Development Activities - Gender Integration in Co-ops (1997)

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This document has been made available in electronic format
by the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA)
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February, 1997
(Source: ICA in Asia and the Pacific -Annual Report 1996)

		Gender Integration in Co-ops
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Some Achievements in the field  of Gender Integration 
in Co-operatives
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The Gender Integration Project became independent from the 
Human Resource Development Project in 1993.

The overall objective of the Project is to promote co-operatives 
become gender responsive to both women and men to contribute
at all levels. 

The Project has tried to encourage member organizations 
to incorporate gender and development concept into its 
co-operative planning and sensitize co-operative leaders 
and members on gender issues by conducting workshops 
and seminars. 

It has also tried to collect information and experiences 
related gender issues and been disseminating among 
member organizations. 

The most important meeting of the Gender Integration
Project  in 1996 was the Regional Consultation Meeting 
on Gender Integration in Co-operatives organized from 
16 -20 Sept. in Bangkok, Thailand, whose objectives was 
to identify the achievements and constraints since 1993. 

The meeting concluded that even though it is not enough, 
some good results have been achieved by member organi-
zations and ICA ROAP, such as increasing women 
members and leaders through training programmes for 
gender awareness and sensitization, production of materials, 
drafting gender responsive and sensitive policies and 
implementation of activities.

Training programmes for gender awareness and sensitization 
have been conducted increasingly and training materials 
and other materials introducing gender issues are being 
produced. 

Co-operative development planning and policies are 
gradually becoming more sensitive to gender issues.  
Some countries have units or committees whose task 
is to address women's interests and needs and to advocate 
gender issues to mainstream of co-operatives.

In the countries such as India, Malaysia, and Nepal, 
where it is relatively difficult to organize gender mixed 
co-operatives from the beginning, women only co-operatives 
have been encouraged to organize women into co-operatives, 
which we hope to promote women as good co-operators 
who would be able to be ready to join or form gender mixed 
co-operatives in near future. 

Constraints and some Future Activities proposed
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There are still many constraints to achieve gender equality 
in the co-operatives, such as limited awareness among 
both women and men on the gender issues, insufficient 
education of co-operative values and principles and 
training for gender sensitivity, very limited women 
leadership training and materials, very limited or no 
gender disaggregated data, which is main cause of 
inappropriate gender analysis in the countries and 
the region, etc. 

The Consultation Meeting recommended some further 
activities at both national and international levels to 
achieve gender equality in the co-operative movements 
as follows:

- Setting up a gender-disaggregated data base to analyze 
the real situation of women and men in co-operatives, 
which makes planning for member services and other  
programmes more precise and responsive for gender issues. 

- Increasing the number and participation of women in 
membership in order to utilize women as potential 
resource for the development of co-operatives.

- Increasing of women leaders and strengthening women 
leadership to reflect women's voices in operation of 
co-operatives, since women and men have different 
views and ideas and it is difficult for one gender to 
represent the opposite gender's ideas.

- More co-operators to be gender sensitive by conduct-
ing more gender sensitivity training, production of case 
stories and training manuals. 

- Modification of co-operative legislation, where there 
are some restrictions on women to become members 
such as provisions "head of household", 'holder of 
immovable properties' etc., by promoting each country 
to review the co-operative laws from the gender 
perspectives and lobbying with governments and 
co-operative authorities. 

The ICA ROAP would work for gender equality in the 
region in the line of these recommendation. 

Some other activities carried out in 1996 were as follows: 

Sub-Regional Workshop on Gender Sensitization 
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A Sub-Regional Workshop on Gender Sensitization and 
Planing was organized from 15 to 20 April, 1996 in Pune, 
India. 14 participants from four countries (India, Israel, 
Nepal and Sri Lanka) attended the workshop. Co-operative 
leaders were exposed to the concept of gender and development 
approach and they prepared draft country action plan for gender
integration. 

Support to National Co-operative Organization
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The ICA ROAP helped the National Co-operative Federation 
of Nepal to conduct a National Workshop on Gender 
Integration in Co-operatives in Nepal from 16 to 20 
December, 1996 which was organized in Kathmandu, 
Nepal. 27 co-operative leaders form the national level 
co-operatives attended the workshop and drafted 
National Action Plan for Gender Integration in Nepal.   

Advisory and Consultancy Services 
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The Gender Programme Advisor visited Myanmar, Korea 
and Singapore to study the situation of women's 
participation in co-operatives the respective country  
and had discussion with co-operative leaders on 
introduction of Gender and Development approach 
into the co-operative development. She also supported 
the Japanese Consumers' Co-operative Union to organize 
a gender study tour to the Philippines and Thailand from 
26 November to 4 December, 1996.

The Gender Programme Advisor prepared a Paper on 
Gender and Development for the Consultation Meeting 
for the Ministerial Conference in Myanmar, which was 
further proposed to the Fourth Ministerial Conference 
in Chiang Mai, Thailand in March, 1997.