ICA-AP commissioned the Second regional study of gendered database to assess the Status of Women in the co-operative sector. The study mirrors the challenges and limitations of being citizens of the Asia-Pacific region, tempered by patriarchal tendencies but balanced by the power of women’s, social and people’s movements. Government policy and laws provide it an enabling engendered framework; particularly, as the region is beginning to be the world’s economic epicentre - indeed its future core. In the last 10 years, the global climate has changed in favor of women and the visibility of women has increased double fold. Men and women are both citizens of society as well as members of cooperatives and are striving for gender equality, gender mainstreaming - not segregation. Co-operatives mobilize women through collective bargaining for their productive assets (land, labor, training, wages, technology, markets and are not for profit but commercially feasible mechanisms); generate employment and jobs, financial inclusion practices, wide ranging service provision to members in their roles i.e. from being shareholders to care givers for households (factoring women’s multiple roles); and give access to social protection, housing, health/child care, and financial services. Indeed, the winds of change for women are blowing in training, capacity building, through attendance of AGMs and other activities.
The need for enabling legislation to enhance women’s participation cannot be advocated more for women to reach decision making levels in cooperatives. The data on board participation may reflect a lower level participation but at the grassroots, the reality is that a momentum has begun, given that the structures of patriarchy are being reversed at many levels. Indeed, Gender is more than a statistic as the report findings reveal. Our thanks to Dr. Nandini Azad for leading the study and members who contributed data. The Gender Study Report can be accessed at: http://www.ica-ap.coop/sites/ica-ap.coop/files/Data%20Study%20Report.PDF