Contribution of Co-ops to Platform for Action: Human Rights

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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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I.   LACK OF AWARENESS OF, AND COMMITMENT TO, INTERNATIONALLY
        AND NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED WOMEN'S HUMAN RIGHTS
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Just as the overall goals of the international co-operative
movement coincide with those of the United Nations, so its goals
in respect to full gender equality within the movement complement
the goals of the United Nations in respect to women's full
enjoyment of human rights. The activities of co-operatives in
many fields of economic and social endeavour contribute
significantly to an improvement in the condition of women: in
addition direct attempts are made to advance women to full
equality with men at all levels of policy making and management.
In these ways the movement contributes to women's greater
enjoyment of their human rights.

Considerable contributions are made by the international co-
operative movement to achievement by women of effective legal
literacy. Through its well-developed communications system. its
attention to adult education, its concern with issues confronted
by the communities whithin which they operate and from which they
draw their membership, co-operatives bring to the attention of
women members, employees, as well as women associated through
male members of families or households, their rights, and the
means whereby they can enjoy those rights. In many countries the
co-operative movement, and particularly co-operative women's
organizations, take part actively in society-wide campaigns for
women's enjoyment of human rights.

Within co-operative business enterprises, the principles which
guide policy formulation and business practice emphase equality
in both responsibilities and rights of all members: this is
applied specifically to the situtation of women, particularly in
respect to assets and share in benefits, as well as generally.
This has a significant impact upon the overall perceptions of
entire communities in which co-operative activity is well
developed. Specific types of co-operative, such as savings and
loans co-operatives or credit unions, contribute substantially
towards women's enjoyment of property, including capital.

In Sweden, for example, Folksam, a major insurance co-operative,
with which over half the adult population has some form of
insurance policy, regularly provides information to all
client-members on women's rights, and to all women members on
their legal and financial rights.