This year the commemoration of International Women’s Day provides the International Co-operative Alliance and all its members with the perfect opportunity to, not only “imagine” women’s empowerment, but to actually contribute to its achievement.

In its annual declaration on International Women’s Day, the Gender Equality Committee of the International Co-operative Alliance said that “this is a chance for co-operators to rediscover their potential and their success as people who wish to promote women and men’s transformation in a more equitable society”.

ICA said that it is also the time to think about and take action on social inequalities, challenges and new opportunities to strengthen our leadership and demand more power for women.

ICA’s Gender Equality Committee emphasised that “the promotion of women’s empowerment should start from the multiple options available via the co-operative development model: from a personal, social and economic perspective; from employment and entrepreneurship; and from the different opportunities we have to achieve a life of dignity and increased freedom”. This concept, that is also defined as “spatial” women’s empowerment, refers to their opportunity to be protagonists, to have their voices heard and to gain legitimacy in the public arena.

The Chairwoman of ICA’s Gender Equality Committee María Eugenia Pérez, said that since its inception, the co-operative model rejected the traditional concepts of leadership and authority, opting to support social authority and shared leadership instead. She emphasised that the co-operative agenda must eliminate perceptions of subordination, promote social capital and networking, create visibility of women, increase skills and authority and promote ownership, self-determination and negotiation of roles.

Click HERE to download the complete Gender Equality Committee declaration in PDF format