Regional Update (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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Oct, 1997
(Source: Asia-Pacific Co-op News, Vol.4, No.3, Jul-Sept. 1997, pp.9)

REGIONAL UPDATE
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Bangladesh
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The Centre on Integrated Rural Development for Asia and the Pacific has
initiated a regional workshop on sustainable development and disaster
reduction to be held December 8 to 12, 1997 in Comilla, Bangladesh.  It
will bring together senior policy makers in governments and directors of
regional and national public service research and training institutes and
staff colleges.  The workshop is made possible by generous funding from
the Commonwealth Secretariat and the United Nations Development
Programme.

The workshop will examine links between policy and practice in
sustainable development planning, environmental management and
disaster reduction with a view to identifying responsibilities within
national governments, UN agencies, NGOs and research and training
institutes.  The workshop will be a forerunner for future national
workshops.

India
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Co-operative Week
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The National Co-operative Union of India will be celebrating the 44th
Co-operative Week from November 14 to 20, 1997.  The themes of
each day are:

14/11/97- 	50 years of Indian Independence and Co-operatives
15/11/97 - 	Co-operatives and Food Production
16/11/97 - 	Co-operative Marketing, Processing and Consumers
17/11/97 - 	Co-operative Credit (rural and urban) Housing and Rural	Development
18/11/97 - 	Co-operatives for Women, Youth and Weaker Sections
19/11/97 - 	Co-operative Leadership

Sex Workers Co-op Expands
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The state government of West Bengal recently gave permission to
Usha Multi-purpose Co-operative Stores to expand membership
beyond Sonagachi, one of Calcutta's red light districts.

Since its founding in June 1995 under the MSC, Usha Co-operative
Multi-purpose Stores has grown from 60 to 400 members. The society
has achieve the recognition and support of the West Bengal state
government.

The co-operative provides credit to sex workers, freeing them from
exploitative interest rates charged by pimps and money-lenders. The
idea behind the co-operative is to enable sex workers to generate a
sustainable income. It also helps former sex workers with self-
employment schemes, like the sale of condoms.

The co-operative was started after a group of sex workers were recruited
to educate their peers through an HIV/STD Intervention Programme. 
Recognising the value of co-operation, the women formed the Mahila
Samanwaya Committee in February 1995.  To gain public attention, a
group of sex workers attended the Calcutta Book Fair in 1993 to distribute
leaflets which read, "You may not respect us;  but, please don't deny us a
footing in society.  We also have our children like yours  if you cannot
help us, at least resist those who oppress us at every step.  Remember, sir,
one day you'll have to face us."

Usha Co-operative members hope their society will continue to grow,
enabling them to support education programs and alternative employment
opportunities.

Thailand
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The board of directors of the Co-operative League of Thailand elected
Dr. Sawat Saengbangpla as Chairman of the Co-operative League of
Thailand September 6, 1997.

Dr. Saengbangpla is the current chair of Chulalongkorm University Saving
and Credit Co-operative Ltd., Vice Chairman of the Federation of Saving
and Credit Co-operative of Thailand, and a board member of Saha Life
Insurance Co., Ltd.

Korea
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The Consumer Co-op Federation of Korea sponsored an orientation
seminar for 45 leaders and potential organisers of university co-ops
and representatives of universities.  Participants were from Korea,
Japan, Singapore and ICA ROAP.

Presentations from participants revealed the main problems facing
university co-operatives:
-	apathy of university authorities
-	lack of awareness about co-operatives
-	absence of a law for consumer co-operatives

The group also participated in a study visit to Hankuk University.

Indonesia
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Indonesian co-operatives celebrated their 50th anniversary at a
two-day conference in Jakarta last July attended by over 300
representatives from Asia, Europe and North America.

The conference featured products of co-operatives and
micro-enterprises.