Inspirational women from across the co-operative sector spoke about issues in Europe at the Gender Forum at Co-operatives United.
Mags Bradbury, Lead for the Co-operative Group’s National Projects Team and Dora Iacobelli, member of the Legacoop Presidency and the President of Legacoop Equal Opportunities’ Commission, spoke on the issues facing women in Europe.
Dora explained that only 46.1 per cent of women are in employment in Italy, compared to 67.7 per cent of men. She explained: “Many women do not try and get a job anymore.”
She added that there were significant issues barriers facing women’s career paths, and women were often underutilised.
In co-operatives, they tended to be more attentive to the needs of women, particularly relating to the issues of family and creating a work/life balance.
However she explained that co-operative policies are not efficiently formalised, with significant difficulties in participation and in the three largest co-ops the female participation is only 23.9 per cent.
She added that there needs to be a change in management culture and it is important that women contribute to all forms of business. In Legacoop they carried out a specific project whose main goals where helping with benefitting equal opportunities and monitoring for improvement.
She said: “Its time to build an European network of women co-operators.”
Dora followed talking about the Women’s Challenge, which aims to improve the equality of women in the co-operative movement. Despite having 76 per cent of women as members, the Co-operative Group, still only has 25 per cent of women on the board.
However, she explained that it was key to point out how far the movement has come and focus on moving forward, as well as the negatives.
The Co-operative Group has targets of 33 per cent on the boards by 2016 – which she described as “staggered, realistic targets” and they want a minimum of 40 percent by 2018.
She added: “we need to encourage more women to get involved.”