Contribution of Co-ops to Platform for Action: Education

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  This document has been made available in electronic format by
         the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA)
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              FOURTH WORLD CONFERENCE ON WOMEN : 
         ACTION FOR EQUALITY, DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE 
            BEIJING, CHINA, 4 - 15 SEPTEMBER 1995

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        THE CONTRIBUTION OF CO-OPERATIVE BUSINESS ENTERPRISE
            AND THE INTERNATIONAL CO-OPERATIVE MOVEMENT
           TO ACHIEVEMENT OF THE STRATEGIC OBJECTIVES OF
                  THE DRAFT PLATFORM OF ACTION *
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                      New York, March 1995


PREPARED JOINTLY, PURSUANT TO GENERAL ASSEMBLY RESOLUTION 49/155,
       BY THE INTERNATIONAL CO-OPERATIVE ALLIANCE AND 
    THE UNITED NATIONS DEPARTMENT FOR POLICY COORDINATION 
                AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

     * For information purposes only. Not an official document 
       of the United Nations and not officially edited.


I.   CONTRIBUTIONS OF CO-OPERATIVES TO THE STRATEGIC 
       OBJECTIVES OF THE DRAFT PLATFORM OF ACTION
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B. UNEQUAL ACCESS TO AND INADEQUATE EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES
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The international co-operative movement, as a matter of basic
principle, stresses the education of all members of co-operatives
and all employees, not only in the technical matters in which the
co-operative is engaged, but also in management and in general
literacy, numeracy and adult education. As part of a major
programme for human resources development, specific attention is
being given to improving the educational status of women members
and employees of co-operatives. It promotes among members concern
with education in general, education of their children, and
specifically, the education of girls and women, who are regarded
as the major future human resource for further co-operative
development.

Co-operatives are highly innovative and, in order to remain
economically viable, emphasize technical and organizational
innovation, and the necessary training, including training of
women. Particularly in the co-operative insurance, banking and
credit and savings sectors training in management and in
technical operations for women employees - who make up a high
proportion of the total - is well developed.

Co-operatives also facilitate in a practical manner greater
involvement of girls and women in education, by helping to reduce
the burden of their involvement in household work and by making
available income to women for their own use. In many cases this
is allocated to their expenditure on their own education, and to
that of their girl children. For example, in Burkina Faso,
women's millet milling co-operatives have used surplus to build
and equip permanent functional literacy centres for women's
groups. In Senegal the National Union of Agricultural Co-
operatives includes functional literacy components in all of its
training programmes, which are directed to women as well as men.
In Niger, savings and credit co-operatives ensure that
information is available to both its women and men members by
organizing, if necessary, separate meetings for each.

Child-care, pre-school and school co-operatives specifically
offer opportunities for quality education with strong emphasis
upon equality of opportunity for girls as well as boys. In Mali,
girls, who may have higher educational status than their mothers,
have opportunities to assist in co-operative development by
taking responsibility for account keeping in rural women's co-
operatives.

Co-operatives adopt flexible labour policies which facilitate
women's re-entry into the labour force after periods of
child-care, as well as flexible schedules which reduce the burden
of dual responsibilities.