How can co-operative women be bold for change?

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is “Be Bold For Change” … we asked four co-operative women how the co-op movement – and women co-operators – can...

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is “Be Bold For Change” … we asked four co-operative women how the co-op movement – and women co-operators – can make this happen…

Dr. Chiyoge B. Sifa
Regional Director of the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) Africa

As we celebrate this year International Women’s Day, I wish to congratulate all women who have stood firm in their quest for a more equitable and just World. I also exhort all of us to not relax and slide back into women abuses. What is needed could be summarized into five simple words namely: Clear, Confident, Courageous, Determined and Decisive.

Be clear about what need to change in our lives and surroundings. Be clear about the change we want to see and what our share in it. Act confidently as agents and advocates of the change we what to see in the World. Be courageous in confronting challenges on the road to change. Change may be resisted and roadblocks put to hamper our quest for a better world. Determination is key to any successful ending. Winners are not quitters and quitters are not winners.

And finally make the decision not to give up until the end victory is won. Being resilient until change is in sight and at hand. Especially during this new transition when are the gains are being challenged and new repositioning is of essence.

Ruth FitzJohn
President of The Midcounties Co-operative and member of the International Co-operative Alliance Gender Equality Committee

Bang on about it: Let’s be bold and persistent in getting the repeated message out there. We do not have gender equality. This is not fair. This is not efficient. This is wrong. It is our job to do something about. If we aren’t the one making the equality point let’s always speak up in support of the one who is – it’s tough to ignore the rolling eyes if other right thinkers don’t do more than just nod.

Others: Let’s all find other women to mentor – let’s be bold in offering a supportive hand. Let’s change the shape of the man-shaped doorways to career progress that many talented women just can’t get through. If you can’t find the right sledgehammer, ask a few women round to help design one.

Language: Let’s be bold in remembering to challenge the language that shapes our culture and our opportunities – no more ignoring gender stereotyping in language like “the girl who manages that store” and then wondering why we don’t have enough women as Area Managers.

Drive for the right answer: We need to be ambitious and unapologetic about aiming for a fairer society and co-op movement. Let’s not assume the arguments have all been won and will automatically be incorporated into governance, commercial and cultural decisions, but let’s boldly ensure the gender arguments for efficiency and diversity of thinking are made at every point. When we make any co-operative decisions, let’s check if they move equality in the right direction – and if they don’t, boldly give them a nudge.

Claire McCarthy
General secretary of the Co-operative Party

The history of the co-operative movement shows that women with a passion for change, can’t sit on the sidelines. Mary Barbour, Margaret Bondfield and Joyce Butler were just the kind of strong women, restless for change, that Donald Trump would disapprove of.

There is unprecedented uncertainty at home and internationally and the march of progress no longer feels inevitable. 2017 can be better than 2016 but only if co-operative women pull together and support one another. But also if more women get stuck in politically.

If you don’t like the increasingly reactionary, intolerant, and frankly unco-operative nature of our political discourse in Britain, then get involved and be a part of changing it.

Dolly Goh
Chief executive of the Singapore National Co-operative Federation

You give her a house, she will give you a home
You give her groceries, she gives you a meal
If you give her a smile, she will give you her heart
She multiplies and enlarges what is given to her

– excerpt from a quote by by William Golding, British novelist, playwright & poet

You give her challenges, she returns with solutions: embrace and engage women in cooperatives.

Opportunities, confidence, support give courage to enable change.

Together, the cooperative movement will be transformed, for the better, from the heart.

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