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

Women and the Development of the Social Economy
The social economy and the economic system - a comparison between the European Union and Russia
(DRAFT  VERSION)

Presented to the
International Cooperative Alliance Conference on Women, Entrepreneurship, and Cooperatives
Paris, France
12-13 October 1998

Dr. Ann-Mari Sätre Åhlander
Research leader
Swedish Institute for Social Economy
Mid Sweden University
831 25 Östersund, Sweden
Tel +46 63 16 54 69. Fax +46 63 16 57 74. E-mail: Ann-Mari Satre@mam.mh.se

1. Introduction
The present paper analyses how the development of the social economy can contribute to increase equity between sexes on a general level by increasing employment, democracy and welfare and how this is related to the functioning of the economic system in northern EU, southern EU and Russia, respectively. It focuses especially on how the cooperative might be seen as a model for change in two different ways. Firstly, it provides a model for changing society. It provides a suitable framework for organising work in accordance with the changing demands of society. Secondly, the cooperative provides a model for changing organisation of work at the individual work-place. The cooperative might in particular provide special opportunities for women with respect to flexibility and participation. The different starting points within EU implies that it is convenient to distinguish between developments in the north and the south. This difference is highlighted with examples from Sweden and Germany on the one hand and Italy on the other.1point of departure for such initiatives is also that the individuals do not expect the state to solve the problems. Secondly, the growth of new cooperatives is accelerated by the circumstances that the discontent with state solutions increases as the public sector is cut down. The activities performed by the state sector might also have become expensive due to a growing bureaucracy in its administration. Thirdly, there is a macro-economic "need" for new solutions with respect to the unemployment problem. While employment in the private and public sectors in the EU has decreased in the 1990s, employment within the social economy, and within cooperatives in particular has increased (Westlund and Westerdahl, 1996). This means that there is also a growing interest in the development of this sector shown by governing authorities. The new cooperative is further considered an important and innovative form of entrepeneurship.

In the European context the social economy encomprises all democratically managed enterprises and organisations which serve the common interests of society (Olsson 1994). The concept of social economy, which originally comes from France, is relatively well known and established in the Latin countries of the European Union, where the cooperative movement historically has been quite strong. On the other hand, in the northern part of the European Union as well as in the former Soviet bloc it is a rather new concept.

In Russian terminology "the middle sector", which is a wider concept than the third sector is defined as state stock companies, kolchozy, enterprises within the consumer cooperatives, enterprises on lease-hold and non-governmental organisations.2 The informal sector, on the other hand, includes the Russian maffia, while the "third sector" includes non-governmental organisations only. Therefore, in the Russian context the social economy is defined as all the activities which are aimed at increasing welfare, but which are not organised by the state sector. In this respect it seems particularly important to include private businesses which are not primarily oriented towards profit-maximisation (Sätre Åhlander, 1998).
 

2. The new cooperatives and transition of society
 
2.1 Employment for women and structural changes of society
In effect, the different starting points within EU implies that it is convenient to distinguish between developments in the north and the south. In Sweden the public sector is responsible for providing child care as well as care of the aged. The cut-down of the welfare state however implies that the social economy "takes over" some of the tasks that previously was taken care of by the public sector, either because the public sector no longer provides the service, or because of a discontent with the quality produced within the public sector. The cooperative  provides a model for keeping up employment rates for women when jobs in the public sector is on the decline. In Sweden new cooperatives are especially expanding in female-dominated areas, that is,  in branches which are dominated by the work, professional skills and interests of women. One reason might be that the "flat", non-hierarchical organisation suits women particularly well. It provides an "easy" framework for starting a business and to run a cooperative might imply a useful experience in entrepeneurship, where you learn to take responsibility for your own actions and decisions.

In Germany new cooperatives are mainly found in innovative branches and women often feel that working in a new cooperative gives them an opportunity to combine social, political and ecological work. In Frankfurt there is an example of how unemployed teachers form a workers cooperative in order to use competent people and organise education with social goals which might not have taken place otherwise, and for which they get payed by the public sector in the beginning. After having starting up the business, services are offered to individuals and firms within the private sector so that the activity changes from having been financed by the public sector to becoming self-financed. This example provides an  interesting model as to how the public sector can give support to the starting up of  cooperatives with activities which are valuable to society but which would not take place otherwise, and how the activity gradually is widened so as to provide services to the private sector and cover its own costs. It provides a model for how initiating structural changes and is particularly interesting for economies where the public sector has to be cut down for budgetary reasons. When the public sector has to cut down on costs, this does not necessarily imply that new solutions to organise the activity are considered. On the contrary experience from Sweden, for example, shows that the welfare state cuts down on costs in activities which it has to take responsibility for, cuts which often imply a cut-down of quality. That is, rather than improving efficiency of the activity by means of a change in its organisation or by saving on bureaucracy quality is sacrificed.

While the German teachers cooperative might provide a model for how to transfer activities from the public sector to the cooperative sector or the social economy, the Italian social cooperatives provide models of how to transfer activities from non-paid work in the private sphere to paid work within the social economy. Further, while the Swedish examples might be seen as models for preventing an increase in female unemployment or models for keeping employment figures for women up, the Italian cases provide models of how to raise employment among women. In Italy the various social activities are built up within the framework of cooperatives. Rather than taking responsibility to satisfy these needs on a personal basis by voluntary, non-paid work, it is organised in cooperatives and transferred to paid work. In Russia the breakdown of the old system of administrative planning and allocation of resources organised by the state sector is on a completely different scale when compared to the reduction of the state sectors in the western economies. On the other hand, as Russia has not become a  market economy, the changes have not as yet brought with them competition, implying that the private sector in Russia does not work according to the same principles as western market economies. A major problem concerns the fact that neither the Russians nor foreigners are willing to invest in activities which are needed for the building up of the Russian economy.3 The privatisation of the big state enterprises has not implied that the management of these have changed, while small private enterprises are generally concerned with activities which do not require investments, with the primary objective of supporting oneself. This means that there is no real "private sector" which can take over the activities which were previously performed by the state sector, and perform these in a "capitalist manner", that is, with the aim of improving efficiency, produce better products and earn high profits. The informal sector, on the other hand, includes the Russian maffia, while the "third sector" includes non-governmental organisations only. This implies that the social economy might have a considerable empty space to fill. For various reasons this does not, however, imply that the cooperative sector flourishes. Instead, it is the voluntary sector and the informal economy that grow (Sätre Åhlander, 1998). For many women this implies that they are transfered from paid work to non-paid work, which in effect means a development in the opposite direction compared  to that of for example Italy.

While women by tradition are the centres of families in Italy and Spain, in Sweden men generally take some responsibility for household duties as well as for the bringing-up of their own children. A starting point for southern Europe in particular, is that children and child care is a female responsibility and that women have to solve any problems in this field. The Swedish cooperatives for child-care and care of the aged could be used as models of how to increase men's participation in family life in southern Europe.

2.2 Development in rural areas
The cooperative might provide a model for rural development. There are Swedish examples of entrepeneurship in rural areas which could well be transferred to other sparsely populated areas within the EU. One is a workers cooperative, "Drivknuten" , which consists of six small firms with one or in some cases, two persons in each. The businesses are all different, producing goods or services of various kinds. One thing they have in common, they all want to support themselves in order to be able to stay in the rural area. By forming a cooperative the individual firms can buy certain services together, they can collaborate in order to strengthen their individual firms, find solutions to common needs and prevent each other from being isolated. For instance, they share the costs for office and work-places, accounting, computer services, telephone and advertisement. In additon the cooperative has developed ecological aims in order to contribute to a local sustainable development. Many of the interviewed women said that since they started to work in the cooperative, the family has become more involved in their work. For instance, the children of the members visit "Drivknuten" after school, which means that they have become to know their mothers work in a natural way.

The second example is the village cooperative "Byssbon". As in the case of the workers cooperative described above, the members of the village cooperative all want to be able to stay in the village. Most of the inhabitants of the village have formed the village cooperative to satisfy common needs of keeping the village shop, keeping the school, organise child care, build new houses in order to enable people to move into the village, some of which are "returners". In some respects the village cooperative has taken over tasks of  the community, which normally is taken care of within the public sector, but they have also organised new market-based activities. For instance, as the village cooperative has entered new areas, this has implied that some smaller cooperatives have been started in the village as well, one example of which is the "data cottage". The good and bad experiences of the village cooperative are documented and spread through internet to other villages in Sweden.

A third example is the information cooperative "Agendum". This cooperative consists of four women with complementary skills, while at the same time they have their own profiles. "Agendum" has implied that these women can combine interesting jobs with a life in a rural area near their families. Access to modern technology implies that although situated far away from the centre of happenings more than 1,000 kilometres from the southern border of Sweden, one of their specialties is engagement in various types of EU projects. The day-care centre "Bergstrollet" in a rural area of Sweden is a forth example from the rural area of Jämtland, of how one cooperative has given its members the practice in entrepeurship they need in order to start other cooperatives. The village has become vivid as a cafe, some tourism acitivities and an informal cooking team has been started.

The case studies from Jämtland are all examples of how the formation of some cooperative sets the stage for rural development in an area where the public sector is contracting and where there are no big private enterprises. It might be a cooperative of micro firms, a village cooperative, a workers cooperative, or a child care cooperative. What these cases have in common is that where people with the aim of staying in the rural area come together and collaborate this has started processes of development which have been attractive to women. These case studies show that if the policy environment is supportive towards women's initiatives to start cooperatives in rural areas this might promote processes of development based on local initiatives. This model of rural development might be transferable to other sparsely populated areas. It might, however, also provide a suitable framework for local development in any less-developed areas, such as in urban areas with a low degree of  activities and high unemployment rates.

2.3 The development of cooperatives in Russia
While the new cooperatives have become an element of some importance for the economic development in many western countries, this has not as yet been the case in Russia. In the Russian context, cooperatives are still in 1998 primarily associated with the traditional Soviet consumer cooperative sector manifested in Centrosoyuz which in 1998 celebrated its 100th anniversary. Centrosoyuz, which was a large, hierarchical organisation is being reorganised and cut down just like the state sector. More than 70 per cent of the employees were women.4 However, many women have lost their jobs in the transition process and their share of employees has been decreased from 72 per cent in 1991 to 66 per cent in 1996. 63 per cent of leaders of cooperatives in Russia are women.5 Many women work within the consumer cooperative without pay.6 Although the general aim of reducing bureaucracy has affected the consumer cooperative in various ways it has been more favourably treated than the private sector with respect to taxation, profitability, payments for energy and rents for property.7 Unprofitable enterprises within the consumer cooperative are generally not likvidated. The arrende for having enterprises on lease-hold from the state is very low. Comparatively low salaries are partly compensated for by the fact that employees in this sector still have some fringe benefits. For instance, employees within the consumer cooperative have kept priviledges in the form of sick care, holidays, care of the aged, day care centres for children and flats. That is, women trade higher salaries for fringe benefits.

The development of cooperatives is seen as a women´s movement, it works horisontally and has a program for survival. In two ways the consumer cooperative in Russia is largely a female organisation. Most of the members and employees as well as the customers are women, it is usually women who are responsible for household shopping. The falling number of members is largely explained by ideological factors. Cooperative ideas are connected with the past.

It is also common that female entrepeneurship has become oriented towards the satisfying of needs and expectations of other people.8 In 1996, about 60 per cent of consumer cooperatives belonged to the trade sector. 15 per cent of enterprises in retail trade, wholesale trade and catering were consumer cooperatives. If we count consumer cooperatives together with other non-state organisations which are not part of the private sector these figures are 26, 49 and 27.5 per cent of enterprises respectively.9

Women in the consumer cooperative want to see cooperatives as a tool for change.There appears to be a link between the consumer cooperative sector and the new service sector. Although many people with primary employment in the middle sector, about one third have second job in the middle sector10 This is also reflected in the fact that about one third of those who start a café, a shop or a kiosk as a second job have their primary employment in the consumer cooperative.  After the new law on cooperatives came into effect in 1988, some women with a background in engineering or economics started cooperatives or small businesses.11 This development was, however, halted.12 If the legal framework is established the possibility of starting a cooperative might imply a good opportunity for female entrepeneurship in Russia. Firstly, it is an easy way of  starting up new businesses, which is especially important in transitional economies were people have little experience of entrepeneurship. The cooperative provides a suitable organisational framework for an easy start. In Russia the hierarcical structure of work places has implied that most people are not used to taking initiatives or in particular, they are not used to being their own bosses. Secondly, it requires less assets in terms of capital investments. Russian women are less interested than men to start their own business as they have more seldom been bosses, they have less experience of working in the private sector and have less psycological belief in enterpeneurship. Russian women are usually well-educated, they want to work and are often optimistic of their own success in businesses.13at the environmental considerations have to be reflected in all decisions and activities. Each member is supposed to work with these questions in the short run as well as in the long run. The village cooperative "Byssbon", which is also mentioned above, is another Swedish example, where local development has encouraged small-scale projects environmental sphere. The connection between local development and environmentally-oriented activities is further evident in various places in Germany (Westlund and Westerdahl, 1996). The social economy, for example, constitues a tangible employment factor to the Berlin district of Kreutzberg and in Dortmund where social-economic activites have ecological profiles. "Ciberia", a wholemeal bakery cooperative, is another example where the ecological objective was an important motive for setting up the company, and in the choice of product. Similar activites have started up among Italian and English cooperatives.

3. Democracy and equity between sexes
In what way can the cooperative organisation increase women's participation in society and thereby give them improved possibilities to combine family life and professional life? The aim is here to highligt solutions where women who are themselves affected take initiatives to find solutions which suit them. This means that we have chosen a bottom-up perspective and focus on local actions and solutions. This also means that we are not interested in solutions which are produced within the public sector, although many women in the public sector have quite flexible jobs depending on their qualifications and type of job. Similarly, we are not interested in individual solutions in the private sphere. It has always been the case that some women are able to increase their own flexibility at the expense of other women, especially in a society where differences in net incomes are wide. Women with relatively high incomes can hire other women as housekeepers or nurses. The present paper however provides examples of how the cooperative is able to provide solutions which are not built on such inequalities. Firstly, the cooperative provides a model for how women can manage to increase their own flexibility by influencing the organisation of their own work. Secondly, the cooperative can provide child care, care of the aged and other services which enables women to have a professional life.

3.1 Creating jobs for women/a female business culture and targeted recruitment
Different studies from various countries in the EU referred to in this paper provide models for job creation and models for the creation of jobs for women in particular. The cooperative might imply opportunities for women to enter or re-enter the labour market. Some stuides from Italy, for example, indicate that social cooperatives can provide many jobs for women, obtaining an income of their own and thus enabling women to become independent. The German examples, the Teacher's Cooperative and "Kontakt", a nursing cooperative, both show how the successful work of existing members continually implies the creation of new jobs, mainly for women. The German bakery cooperative, where all members as well as employees are women, is also an example of how a women's space can be created within a cooperative. This cooperative has created a female dominated business culture, which fits the special needs of women. The Swedish cooperatives show how women can create their own jobs in rural areas.

The German Bakery cooperative and some of the Italian social cooperatives are also interesting examples of targeted recruitment. These can be used as models for women who have problems to find suitable employment on the ordinary labour market. The cooperative can also provide an appropriate alternative for handi-capped, youth, drug-abusers, or any group of people with common interests, to create their own jobs and organise work in accordance with their specific needs.

3.2 Childcare at work-places and cooperative day-care centres
It is quite common that individuals in some "free" professions, such as among artists, writers, and researchers can organise work and family life simultaneously. In most other professions where it is necessary to be at a special workplace at a specific time this might be more difficult. Germany provides interesting models of how cooperatives give different kinds of support to people with children, enabling parents, and many women in particular, to plan their job so as to organise private life and professional life as an entity rather than separately. There are many examples of how cooperatives pay bonuses to employees with children. In the investigated sample it was more common within cooperatives with many women, but interstingly enough, bonuses to employees with children were also paid within 20 per cent of the cooperatives where only men were working. Some cooperatives provide child care for the workers at the cooperative. The German examples also provided frameworks for special arrangements with respect to working time for employees with children. In many cooperatives employees with children have shorter working hours and longer holidays than others. The German Teacher's cooperative, for instance, has contributed to community work through the services it develops and provides. The providing of day-care for children and services to schools supports women and makes it easier for them to return to the labour market after being at home with children.

The German cooperative "Kontakt" is an example of how the ambulant service for nursing of sick and old people provide help for women who have to take care of the sick and aged within their families. The Swedish cooperative day-care centre "Sjöelefanten" provides an example of how women's participation and flexibility actually increase with the cooperative as it enables women to have certain jobs that they could not have had without this service. "Sjöelefanten" provides child care 24 hours a day to be compatible with the special working hours of employees on "Stena Line"- a passenger ferry between Sweden and England."Kalabaliken", which is another cooperative day-care centre in Sweden is an example of how flexibility increases for single parents, as the running of the cooperative is organised by themselves with respect to their particular situation. Parents also collaborate when the day-care centre is closed.

One hypothesis is that cooperatives are generally more open organisations than private businesses. Experiences from Sweden indicate that fathers are more involved in cooperative day-care centres than in public ones. Firstly, they participate more in the development of their own children at the day-care centre. Secondly, as all parents usually carry out various duties at their cooperative day-care centres children get to know each other's fathers. In Sweden men's participation in the family life increases women's possibility to have interesting jobs. The German teachers cooperative is an example of how a quota system for men has been used to get balance between men and women in teaching. Such a quota system might be combined with the Swedish parent's cooperative and provide a model of change in the trend towards decreasing fertility and rising unemployment among young women in Italy and Spain.

3.3 Positive considerations of part-time and flexible working hours
The cooperative might imply flexibility with respect to working time for the individual member or employee. In Belgium firms within the social economy show how women's flexibility increases as they are able to work part time. In Belgium, where women usually are responsible for household duties, child care and care of the aged, the possibility to work part time enables them to to have a professional life as well as as a family life. The German "Kontakt" provides another example of how flexible working hours which can be adapted to individual needs, which is particularly important for single parents.

The possibility to work part time might also imply that it is easier to combine a job with studies. A member can for instance chose to be more or less active in the cooperative in different periods. Flexibility with respect to working time might also imply that employees can decide how much they want to work and when, they might for instance chose to work different hours different days, work more during certain periods, etc. Such a model has been adopted by the German bakery cooperative, which consists of 31 women. Most of these women work part time, some of them work a few hours now and then only, while others work full time. The Swedish "Agendum" provides an example of how flexible working hours enables the members, who are all women, to plan professional life and family as an entity as well as separately. As their activities are based on projects with different life-spans, their work is policy-oriented, implying that incomes as well as working time varies considerably from time to time. This also implies that work is priority number one in certain periods, a fact that children can adapt to when parents are able take work home or bring children to the office.
Flexible working time might further make it easier to combine work and studying.

3.4 Time sharing, training and practice in entrepenurship
The cooperative might provide models for time sharing, training and development of entrepeneural skills. The Swedish health centres "Offerdal" and "Akka" are good examples of how time sharing increases flexibility for the employees. With team work responsibility for certain duties is shared between at least to persons. Hence, it is easier for an employee to take time off when needed as there is somebody who can easily replace that person. For instance, if somebody is sick or has a sick child, time sharing implies that the activity is not disturbed although one of the employees has to leave work with short notice. "Agendum" shows how flexibility increases as members can step in for one another, implying that unpredicable situations can be handled. In Germany there are interesting examples of  job-sharing between couples. Time sharing and shared responsibility further increases participation as work becomes more varied and members develop existing skills as well as new skills. In particular, the problem oriented way of working, implies that there is a capacity for solving problems as they arise. Consequently, work organisation has to be flexible and members are continously trained to be creative and open towards new solutions. In addition the case studies provide many examples of how women develop abilities which are important in a society which on the whole is subject to structural changes. The German teacher's cooperative, for example, show how the participative organisation structure and the openness towards new project ideas give women a field to try their skills, contributing to increase their self-reliance and job-satisfaction. This cooperative also provides an example of how growth has a healthy effect on the workforce as job satisfaction and commitment increase when new projects arise and assistance is needed to put them into service. Workers have continuously been involved in the undertaking of new projects, which in turn has guaranteed the success of projects already int operation. In this way a variety of projects in related fields have been carried through.

To run a cooperative might also imply a good practice in entrepeneurship. It provides an alternative to starting a private business. Responsibility is shared with other people while at the same time a large sum of risk capital is not required to start a cooperative. Nevertheless, participation in the actual running of a firm implies a practise in self-dependence, responsibility, decision-making and a practise in solving different kinds of problems, "to take your own life and work in your own hands". Both the German teachers' cooperative and the Swedish examples showed that participation through the running of a cooperative has resulted in new knowledge not only of how to run an enterprise, but also knowledge about the municipality or region and about society as a whole. Many women felt that participation gave them empowerment. The more flexible organisation of work makes it is easier to make decisions, the ways to decions are shorter, work becomes more varied and competence is used better.

3.5 Providing of  risk capital
In Sweden some percentage of income goes to various funds which are ear-marked and can be used quite strictly for special purposes only. Payments into the pension fund are used for pensions, payments into the unemployment fund is used for unemployment benefits, payments to the trade union are used for wages to workers on strike, etc. This rigid system needs to be revised to be compatible with the demands of the new society. Italy, Spain and Germany provide interesting solutions when it comes to providing capital which could be transferable to Sweden. In Italy there are examples of how unions can provide capital to cooperatives and how unemployed can convert their unemployment benefit to equity capital in a cooperative. Various combinations of possibilities of funding from funds of trade unions, funds for unemployment benefits, insurance funds can be provided. The German cooperative "Kontakt", for instance,  provides an example of how services to old or sick people supplied by the cooperative are financed by the sickness insurance fund.

3.6 Non-governmental organisations networks and distribution of information in Russia
One important effect of the changes towards democracy in Russia has been that the local initiatives among women have increased.14 Independent women's organisations have been formed, previously hidden forces have come up to the surface and women are stimulated to realise themselves. In 1994, there were 300 registered female organisations within Russia, the members of which are prosperious but not part of the top leadership.15 Such informal female networks are especially important when the formal economy does not work properly. In the Russian transitional economy the access to information technology has implied that many women in various parts of the country obtain information in a completely different manner to how they did only a few years ago, in particular as compared to the time before Gobarchev introduced glasnost.16 In Saint Petersburg, for example, an information bank has been formed, which contains information about 5 000 women.17 The networks provide information about new laws and resolutions and their effect on women, meetings and conferences, what has happened within the various local networks etc. In 1996 there were about 400 registered non-governmental organisations in Russia. There is, however, a great dependence on outside funding.18  Female organisations view the "third sector" as one of the main guarantors for a development which is not only oriented towards market-based solutions, but also towards a democratic development and the satisfaction of needs. The "third system" is also described as an economy with a human face. The incomes of non-governmental organisations are obtained from membership fees, conferences and teaching.19 enterprises and "incubators" for new business enterprises in small local economic communities. An example of such an organisation is the Association of Women in Business in Novosibirsk which facilitates the creation of businesses by women, offers financial and legal advice and opens up information channels to other organisations. Centres for coordination of jobs which are carried out on orders have been formed in Nizhnyi Novgorod and Dzerzhinsk.21 Regional centres for employment have been set up, where female entrepeneurship, self-employment and handicraft etc is encouraged.22ith respect to the unemployment problem. In southern Europe the social economy develops either to meet various needs which are not met otherwise, or to create employment. Cooperatives are often formed when private enterprises have to go out of business for economic reasons. Employees form workers cooperatives in order to save private businesses from bancruptcy, thereby securing their own jobs. The cooperative might further provide long-term unemployed with an opportunity to re-enter the labour force. In particular it might provide employment for others who have problems to find a job on the labour market such as elderly women who have previously been home wives, divorced women, widows, disabled and youth.

In the Russian context the first reason mentioned above seems to be particularly important. On the one hand, the traditional planned economic system which existed since the first Five Year Plan in 1928 is breaking down. In effect this means that the break-down of the old system of administrative planning and allocation of resources organised by the state sector is on a completely different scale when compared to the reduction of the state sectors in the western economies. On the other hand, as Russia has not become a  market economy, the changes have not as yet brought with them competition, implying that the private sector in Russia does not work according to the same principles as western market economies. A major problem concerns the fact that neither the Russians nor foreigners are willing to invest in activities which are needed for the building up of the Russian economy.24 The privatisation of the big state enterprises has not implied that the management of these have changed, while small private enterprises are generally concerned with activities which do not require investments, with the primary objective of supporting oneself. This means that there is no real "private sector" which can take over the activities which were previously performed by the state sector, and perform these in a "capitalist manner", that is, with the aim of improving efficiency, produce better products and earn high profits.

The social economy is developing in the gap between the old and the new economic system, within the framework of the Russian transition economy. There are many needs which are no longer provided for within the state sector and which are not "taken over" by the private sector. Distribution of foods and products in rural areas, child care, care of the aged, health care, education, distribution of information. Local initiatives among women has increased and independent women´s organisations have been formed. In the consumer cooperative women accept lower wages as they have kept some priviledges in the form of sick care, holidays, flats, care of the aged and care of children.

 In the Soviet era informal networks between neighbours, friends and relatives helped people to solve common problems. Such networks are important in transitional Russia as well, but for slightly different reasons. There are, for instance, informal networks for taking care of children in places were the state no longer provides such services. Informal networks for protecting private property has been formed. Another example is that it has become quite common for families to build houses together. Such informal local networks appear to become especially important as the situation in the transition process is unstable and it is difficult to know who to trust.25
 

Literature
Babaeva, L. and Chirikova, A. (1995) "Zhenshchiny v Biznece", Chelovek i Trud, No. 12, pp. 89-93
Barabanova, S.(1995), "Zhenskaya bezrabotitsa", Chelovek i Trud, No. 7, pp. 24-26.
Danieli, D., Kouvo, S., Mattsson, E. Sätre Åhlander, A-M (1998) "Participation and flexibility: an opportunity for women´s employment". Final report for the European project: Personel et cadres féminins travaillant dans des coopératives de travail associé et enterprises sociales, Bruxelles.
Informatsionnyi Statisticheskii Byullenten No. 13, November 1996, Goskomstat, Moskva.
Khibovskaya, E.A. (1996),"Vtorichnaya zanyatost v raznykh sektorakh ekonomiki", Ekonomicheskie i sotsialnye peremeny: manitoring obshchestvennogo mneniya, Informatsionnyi byullenten monitoringa, No. 3, pp. 24-27, VTsIOM, Moskva.
Kisileva, G. (1998) "State Policy and Role of women in Society and consumer Cooperation of Russian federation" International Cooperative Alliance Conference on Women, Enterpreneurship, and Cooperatives, Paris, 12-13 October.
Marchenko, T. and Tetrenko, E. (1994) Zhenshchiny v perelomnyi period rossiskoi  zhizni, Fond "Obshchestvennoe mnenie".
Olsson, J. (1994) Den sociala ekonomin, Carlssons Bokförlag, Stockholm.
Rimashevskaya, N.M. (1996), "Gender i ekonomicheskii perekhod v Rossii (na primere taganrogskikh isledovanii)" in Malysheva (ed) (1996), pp. 25-40.
Vlasova, N. et.al (1994), Zhenskaya bezrabotitsa v Rossii, Chelovek i Trud, No. 3, pp. 6-10, Voprosy statistiki, 1/94.
Putnam, R.D. (1993) Making democracy work. Civic traditions in modern Italy. Princeton.
Sätre Åhlander, A-M. (1998) "Kvinnorna och den sociala ekonomin i Ryssland" i Westlund, H. (red), Regional utveckling i globala och lokala kraftfält, Antologi från Forskarforum 1997, Institutet för Regionalforskning, Rapport 106, 1998, s 11:1-13.
Westlund, H. och Westerdahl, S. (1996) Den sociala ekonomins bidrag till lokal sysselsättning. Institutet för social ekonomi. Östersund.

1 Most of the examples from the European Union referred to in this paper have been collected within the framework of  the European Union project Personel et cadres féminins travaillant dans des coopératives de travail associé et enterprises sociales. Six countries participated in this project: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Sweden (Danieli et.al 1998).
2 Khibovskaya (1996), p. 26.
5 Ibid.,
13 Babaeva and Chirikova (1995), p. 91.
17 Velichina (1996), p. 24.
20 NGO:s organise security committees, employment centres, educational boards etc. in cooperation with local authorities to set financing for fixed purposes, with the aim of achieving local financial independence. They are usually engaged in the solving of every-day problems. Some of them are involved in handicraft and art, others provide consultancy, seminars and services to members such languages and data.
22 Vlasova et.al (1994). p. 10. In Tversk, for example, a club for job-seeking persons have been set up. In the Volga-Vyatskii region a centre which was formed on the initiative of the female group "Gender" has worked out a programme "Woman in a small firm", the  result  of which  was that 40 per cent of those who were engaged in the project actually started their own business [Barabanova (1995), p. 26].
24 The reasons for this are many, most important of which is the absence of a properly working legal system.