Women

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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 1996

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                    ICA Women's Committee
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                     Activity Report 1995


Executive
Chairperson:       Katarina Apelqvist (Sweden)

Vice-Chairperson:  Bernadette Wanyonyi (Kenya)

Secretary:         Susan King (UK)

Members:  Irene Drazewska (Poland); Natsu Yuasa (Japan); Nargis
Rashid (Pakistan);  Ann Page  (UK)

The first six months of 1995 has been a time of consolidation and
preparation for important forthcoming events. As always, our main
concern is the way our efforts are thwarted by the lack of
support from those who supposedly share our ideals and ambitions.

The Women's Committee has 35 Members from 29 Member organisations
in 25 countries. What we do not have is the means of  identifying
exactly how many women co-operators are represented by the
Committee, as such data has never been collated. However, we do
know that many of the women we represent are unable to be members
of co-operatives in their own right, even though they make up
most of the workforce within those co-operatives.

The Women's Committee has a duty to represent the interests of
women co-operators worldwide, and in spite of the constraints
under which it operates, continues to find ways to do so.

Executive Meeting - Poland
We were honoured and delighted when the Supreme Co-operative
Council invited us to hold our Executive Meeting in Poland in
April.  During our all too short visit to Warsaw and Zakopane we
were able to visit several co-operatives. We were particulary
impressed by two co-operatives, O.S.M, a dairy processing plant
in Nowy Targ and Izis, a cosmetics and medical co-operative with
branches throughout Poland. Both these successful co-operatives
are not only run by women, but are also mainly staffed by women.
Indeed we found throughout our visit that the co-operatives that
have survived the turmoils of recent political and economic
changes have done so largely due to the adaptability and
determination of the women members and employees.

European Gender Programme
After several attempts, a joint application,  by the Women's
Committee and the Co-operative Network, for European Union
funding to finance a training programme has proved successful.
This means that three courses, each of three weeks duration, will
be held in Germany and England during the next twelve months.
Twenty women from Polish co-operatives will take part in each
course. The first one will take place this autumn.  The partici-
pants will plan their own agenda and define what form the
train-ing will take. They will then be encouraged to set up
training projects within their localities, for ten to fifteen
women. In this way 600 - 900 women will benefit from the
programme.

Similar projects will be developed for women co-operators in
other Eastern European countries, assuming further funding can be
secured in the future.

Centennial Congress
The Women's Committee will hold its Annual Plenary Meeting
together with a full programme of events in conjunction with the
Centennial Congress in Manchester in mid-September. Unfortunately
there will be very few Members of the Women's Committee present.
We cannot believe that this is lack of interest as we are to
discuss far reaching issues such as the Constitution of the
Global Women's Committee and the setting up of Regional Women~s
Committees. We could, of course, be cynical and suggest that once
again it will be the men who will be funded to attend in
preference to the women.

One hundred years of the International Co-operative Alliance is
certainly a good reason for all of us to celebrate. It would be a
tragedy if women co-operators were denied their rightful place,
together with the men, on such an important occasion.

As always the Women's Committee is seeking ways in which to
promote its aims and objectives. This becomes increasingly
difficult if Member Organisations do not maintain their
commitment to send Members and Executive Committee Members to
meetings. It is difficult enough to conduct our business with one
full plenary and two executive meetings a year. If meetings are
not representative, democracy is denied and the burden of
responsibility of decision-making falls unequally on the few.

Women have a significant part to play in the Global Co-operative
Movement, both now and in the next one hundred years: the Women's
Committee believes its role is to encourage and enable women to
do so.