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International Day of Action for Women Co-operatives is dedicated to sensitize people about the important role Women Co-operatives play in society as an economic example promoting sustainable livelihoods, well-being and dignity for Women.

As the world’s biggest voice championing Women Co-operatives Model Development, She-Coops has resolved to promote October 17th as a day for its observance each year that is separate from the International Day of Co-operatives to bring to the attention of all people the significant contributions of Women Co-operatives to the economic advancement of Women. The Day holds great significance as it brings to light how Co- operatives measurably improve Women’s economic well-being, and despite various flagship schemes carried out for the cause of Women empowerment around the world, the Co-operatives model stands out as one enduring even during times of crisis.

This designation of International Day of Action marks a key step both organizationally, institutionally, and discursively in further repositioning the Women Co-operatives movement globally. Commemoration of the International Day of Action for Women Co- operatives is to give visibility and vent to activities of Women Co-operatives around the world, and the overall confidence index of Women participation in Co-operatives is expected to rise significantly and hopes to motivate more Women to pursue leadership positions within the movement.

The value of Co-operatives in improving Women’s lives and livelihoods cannot be over- emphasized as it remains an important agency to improve their well-being, and help Women unto the ladder of economic activity.

We want to use the International Day of Action to tell the tremendous stories of Women Co-operatives and how it is changing the livelihood of Women around the world. Thus considering the unique opportunity the International Day of Action brings to tell its empowering role in Women’s lives throughout the world, the UN posits that Co-operatives secures the livelihood of one-third of the world’s population.

The last two years of the pandemic had shown in the bleakest way possible the sharp divides in our society and the costs poverty imposes in terms of health and well-being, community and cohesion – dignity and opportunity. As social conditions continue to worsen around the world, evidence abound to show the invaluable contributions Women Co-operatives are making to people’s security, well-being, and happiness. The social connection Co-operatives provide matters to Women’s health and wellbeing and is a vital lifeline for millions across the world before, during and after the pandemic.

Besides the International Day also provides the opportunity to re-invent democratic self- help for the 21st century, as Women active participation is the language and tradition the Co-operative movement must rediscover and promote in order to thrive (remain relevant) throughout the twenty-first century. Women are the heart of the Co-operative movement and its future depends on the opportunity it gives Women and Girls for greater prosperity. Women’s engagement and involvement are critical in attaining the full potential of cooperation; this is why She-Coops advocates that Women participation in Co-operatives should go beyond numerical representation to full, equal and effective participation.

Co-operatives bring new life opportunities, greater economic independence, social connections and voice to Women. Having inspired the on-going Global Census of Women Co-operatives, we are about to set a New Guinness World Record of the largest Women- owned Business in the world. If we support Women to participate equally in Co- operatives, it could raise the global Co-operative value by $2.5 trillion to $5 trillion. Closing the parity gap is a massive economic opportunity not just for the movement but smart economics. The global Co-operative value can be increased by 35% if barriers to Women participation in Co-operatives are removed.

We must unleash Women’s productive potential through Co-operatives which represents a major opportunity with significant consequences for individuals, families and economies. This is particular now that our rates of Women economic opportunity and their participation are declining against the global trend, at a rapid rate. If we erase the inequities (barriers) that hinder (prevent) Women from fully participating in the economy and substantially build a critical mass of Women into Co-operatives as members, we will have succeeded in unlocking human potentials and created empowerment opportunities for Women on a transformational scale, just by creating awareness about the Co- operatives

There is abundant optimism that as we unlock Women’s untapped economic potential through Co-operatives and lay the foundation for a solidarity economy, it can drive Women’s financial inclusion at scale while playing significant role towards building positive identity and fulfillment of self. It is time for the Co-operative movement to move towards Women.

We are eager to dig into this wealth of information to advance our goals of supporting Women Co-operatives, facilitating rural prosperity, and strengthening the cords of cooperation and solidarity, efficiently, and effectively for a better world. Women can change the world of cooperation and have the potential to transform it in a range of important ways as they continue to contribute to economies of their Countries.

Considering how societies are transforming, Women’s role has changed extraordinarily particularly in societies dealing with conflict, poverty, and inequality. Co-operatives remain exceptional in comparison with the increasingly common appearance of more informal Women groups, and we need to raise more awareness on the emerging importance of Co-operatives as a form of social protection and effective tool for the empowerment of the world’s Women. They are uniquely positioned institutions that can rapidly enhance a Woman’s dignity and quality of life.

Globally, Women remain widely under-represented and suffer a disproportionately low representation in Co-operatives constituting fewer than 25% of its entire movement; Although the worldwide progress in Co-operatives over the last seven decades has not translated into proportional gains for Women. The global Cooperative movement before now was a traditional male-driven social movement creating opportunities and networks that men have benefitted for more than a century. This has made one-half of the world’s available talents unwilling to explore the models full diversity in the depth it deserves and why Women remain under-represented across the Co-operative movement. Thousands of Women Co-operatives around the world remain invisible in official Co-operative data and statistics.

The higher you go up the leadership ladder across the Co-operative movement, the fewer the Women you meet. Today, only a negligible number of initiatives depicts Women exist in the Co-operative movement. Without doubt, the Co-operative movement is a great organization but can be greater if half of it is run by Women. We are no longer sugar- coating the conversation about Equality in Co-operatives but deliberately building and promoting the Women Co-operative Model. There is an urgent need to build a critical mass of Women Cooperators if we want to play an active role in the sector.

The International Day of Action shall create a viable, legitimate and active forum for sharing information, strategizing for action and intervention, including advocacy to communicate practical and realistic steps of further use of the Co-operative model to support Women that will allow them work out on poverty, improving their ability to build forward better. Women are the backbone of every family, of our communities and are nation builders. We aim to build together a model of society grounded on local, harmonious development, fair commercial relations, equality, trust, co-responsibility, transparency and respect.

The Co-operatives model is a breeding ground for Women’s socio-economic empowerment and remains an important vehicle that can contribute to increasing the social status of Women and Girls. Women’s empowerment starts with economic participation and economic participation for Women is a very effective tool for uplifting

their socio-economic status and always results in higher prestige and self esteem. There’s never been a more important time than now to tell the incredible stories of Women Co- operatives and recognize initiatives that have helped improve and promote Women empowerment which is critical to helping them build a more secure and sustainable life for themselves and their children.

The International Day of Action for Women Co-operatives is open to all Women (in) Cooperatives as it will also be used to unveil the Women Co-operatives Capital-of-the- World. This initiative recognizes a Country with highest number of Women Co-operatives.

Co-operatives can provide Women with a more dignified way out of poverty often away from violence and abuse as its enterprising attempt if leveraged upon, will help shift social norms and a powerful lever for advancing gender equality, expand rural livelihood opportunities and boost rural household (family) incomes including overall socio- economic well-being, while facilitating greater business opportunities and market linkages through participation in value chains.

Co-operatives are playing a leading role in this critical moment for humanity, where there are enormous social, economic and environmental challenges that urgently needs to be overcome. As we drive progress towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals particularly Goal 5, this observance represents a quantum leap for Women’s empowerment globally. Where Co-operatives will go depends on us as Women, so let’s expand the space for more Women to join the Co-operative movement and create a world where any Woman can decide when to join/form a Co-operative, and has the information, education, and means to do so.