On the 8th of March, communities around the world commemorate women’s achievements and the struggle for a more equal world. CICOPA joins the women’s rights movement!
The 8th of March is officially recognized by the United Nations as the International Women’s Rights Day (IWD). Worker and social cooperative family fully recognizes the contribution that women in our cooperatives generate for our societies and commits to fight for better economic and social inclusion of women, equal opportunities, and empowerment.
The theme for IWD 2023 is “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality”. It was chosen to acknowledge and appreciate the contributions that women and girls are making to technology and online learning.
The IWD this year also sets out to explore the impact of the digital gender gap and addresses how to protect the rights of women in digital spaces, including those who suffer online violence.
For the reader’s information, the digital divide, or digital gap, is the gap between demographics and regions that have access to modern information and communications technology (ICT), and those that don’t or have restricted access. The digital gender gap means that women who are already in vulnerable positions globally, fall even more behind without access to internet or smartphones. Women are often underrepresented in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) professions and commonly suffer harassment.
Cooperatives play a major role in helping to close the digital gender gap. For example, in worker and social cooperatives, upskilling and reskilling is part of the trainings members undergo regularly: principle 5 of cooperative identity says that “Cooperatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their co-operatives.” Women in cooperatives have access to education on sophisticated technologies and ICT. Many worker and social cooperatives are making a step further to tackle work related discriminations women are facing in the IT tech sector or to provide adapted services to women users.
To name just a few, the Argentinian federation of IT worker cooperatives (FACTTIC), provides a feminist space to tackle gender based challenges faced by women in the IT sector (see below), the French IT worker cooperative Les Tilleuls having a specific gender policy applied to the management and work conditions, or the Canadian cooperative transport platform Eva taking gender-inclusive measures to provide safe services to women users (see below), to name just a few.
To sum up, worker and social cooperatives create dialogue and change for their female members, while offering safe online and offline working spaces and equal opportunities for women – including in leadership.
What are the CICOPA members and coops initiatives around the globe to commemorate this day?
CECOP (CICOPA Europe)
Members: Legacoop Sociali, Italy
Gender policies have always been high on Legacoop. This has been evidenced more recently on the growing figures of female participation in how national leadership has risen to 36%. There has also been an adoption for new guidelines for more gender quality in panels, projects aimed at fostering female employment, and campaigns aimed at female entrepreneurship.
More recently CoopFond has designed an initiative that fosters the culture of equality in cooperatives.
Read more (In Italian)
Member: UCECOM, Romania
On occasion of the 8th of March, UCECOM is commemorating the IWD with a statement recognizing the contribution that women have made to society and the digital world.
Read more (In Romanian)
Member: COCETA, Spain
In 2022, in Spain, 58% of new worker cooperatives were set up by women. In addition, more than 51% of cooperative members in Spain are women. Moreover, 51% of worker cooperatives have implemented an Equality Plan to provide greater guarantees of equal treatment between both genders.
Read more (In Spanish)
Member: CGSCOP, France
In France, our member CGSCOP has released their 2022 report. Findings show that women represent 32% of all cooperators in their network. In addition, from the 3310 general managers of their cooperatives, 29% were women, and usually their mandate lasts 4 years.
Read more (In French)
Member: Confcooperative, Italy
A total of 3,361 women-led cooperatives are members of Confcooperative. A large proportion of women-led cooperatives, which account for 26% of the total number of Confcooperative members are social cooperatives, and 22.6% are worker and services coops.
Download their 2021 study (In Italian)
Member: ICCIC, China
On the occasion of Women’s Day and Arbor Day, ICCIC will organize a tree planting activity to commemorate the great women who have contributed to the Gung Ho cause, carry forward the spirit of ICCIC, and remember the pioneers of Gung HO. Apart from the tree planting the stories of female pioneers in industrial cooperation and public welfare will be told.
Member: BCCM, Australia
The latest summary paper of BCCM titled “Gender Diversity of Chairs and Chief Executives among the Top 100 Co-operative and Mutual Enterprises (2016–2022)” has shown that in 2022, 23% of CEO roles among the Top 100 CMEs were held by women, improving on the 2021 figure of 17 per cent.
In addition, BCCM is celebrating IWD with the Australian theme: Cracking the Code: Innovation for a gender equal future. Coops and mutuals in Australia are leveraging inclusive technologies, embracing disruptive innovation, and ensuring access to education.
Member: SEWA, India
SEWA has always been committed to the development of self-employed women. The federation works as an accelerator to support women’s cooperatives, and one area of focus is digital inclusion. They continue to include their members in the digital world through social media, e-commerce portals, platforms/apps, and others digital channels, which is this year’s theme for IWD.
Member: FCPU, Uruguay
The Gender Commission of the Federación de Cooperativas de Producciٕón del Uruguay (FCPU) has spoken out in favor of decent work. As female worker cooperators they will protest today against a national pension reform bill and they will join the marches.
Member: Canadian Worker Cooperative Federation, Canada
Canadian member CWCF recognizes the importance of women and people of color in worker cooperatives. For example, they recently unveiled an action plan to support a racially diverse, inclusive, and just worker co-operative movement in Canada.
In addition, cooperatives such transport platform coop Eva, will be taking gender-inclusive measures, such as the plan to add in April 2024 to its mobile application the possibility for women, trans and non-binary passengers to select a driver member who is also a woman, a trans or non-binary person.
Member: United States Federation of Worker Cooperatives
The American member of CICOPA, USFWC represents 1,000 estimated worker coops.
One of them is Up & Go, a platform worker cooperative that offers on-demand cleaning services. The majority of whom are migrant women and can earn an income 25% higher compared to the local industry average wage.
The Federación Argentina de Cooperativas de Trabajo de Tecnología, Innovación y Conocimiento (FACTTIC), represents cooperatives that offer IT services in Argentina, and it turned 10 in 2022.
The Federation includes multiple spaces for members, including the feminist space. In this space members (men and women alike) get together discuss how to tackle gender challenges faced by women, especially in the IT sector. In recent years, they joined the march for the depenalization of abortion in Argentina, and they have pushed gender equality policies in the Federation.
CICOPA Americas Board
CICOPA Americas recently democratically elected a new board. Marisol Fuentes, Secretary, has sent a special message to all CICOPA members.