Award Winners announced at the “It’s Nice to be Connected” competition
During its 64th General Assembly on December 18, 2009, the United Nations declared that 2012 would be the International Year of Cooperatives (IYC). The aim of the year would be to highlight the contribution of cooperatives to socio-economic development, particularly their impact on poverty reduction, employment generation and social integration. One of the three objectives of the IYC2012 was “Increasing public awareness about cooperatives.”
Five Japanese cooperatives, including ICMIF members, Zenrosai and JCIF (Japan CO-OP Insurance Consumers’ Co-operative Federation) organised a story contest in Japan, called the “It’s Nice to be Connected” competition as part of their initiatives towards increasing public awareness of cooperatives and therefore achieving this particular IYC2012 objective.
In the contest, members of the public were invited to submit essays, stories and pictures illustrating the many connections that take place between people in every day life. The request for submissions was issued between June and August of this year.
There was a fantastic response from the public to the competition organised by the Japanese coops; entries for the contest totalled 2,245 (2,041 essays and 204 pictures). From these entries there were five grand prize winners and 26 runners-up which were decided after three preliminary screening meetings and then a final jury session.
Kimihiko Yasumoto of the Research & International Affairs Section at Zenrosai said, “I was a member of the preparation committee for this project. It was challenging for us at first because this is the first time that cooperative organisations worked together to achieve such an objective. The fact that we were able to organise this contest, which leads to increased public awareness about cooperatives, one of the three objectives of the International Year of Cooperatives (IYC), is very rewarding for everyone at Zenrosai and the other cooperatives who worked on the project.”
Reiko Yukutake of JCIF says, “I think this was a great project for the International Year of Cooperatives because a number of cooperative organisations worked together on it. I could feel the connection between us as cooperative organisations and also the importance of the connections illustrated in the stories. It was a good opportunity for us to give awareness to the importance of these connections. I was happy to join this project.”