ICA Gender Equality Committee releases International Women’s Day statement

Co-operatives offer “unique opportunities for women to gain ownership, raise their voices, and participate actively in their communities”, says the ICA

To mark International Women’s Day (8 March), the International Co-operative Alliance’s Gender Equality Committee (GEC) has reiterated its commitment to giving visibility and support to women in the co-operative movement. 

In a statement published today, GEC pointed out that co-operatives – as businesses guided by the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity – offer “unique opportunities for women to gain ownership, raise their voices, and participate actively in their communities”. 

“The co-operative movement shares the vision of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development of a world free of poverty, where human beings ‘can fulfil their potential in dignity and equality and a healthy environment’,“ the statement reads.

“The Gender Equality Committee of the International Cooperative Alliance strives for the progress of women’s participation and leadership in economic and social spheres. We will keep working to give visibility and support to women in the co-operative movement. We believe that co-operatives are a valuable driver for gender equality. By offering opportunities for economic independence and for participation in collective action, co-operatives are not only benefiting women but the whole community – these dynamics can transform the collective mindset in a way that impacts the next generations.”

Related: Central Co-op marks International Women’s Day with Women’s Voices event

Celebrated every 8 March, International Women’s Day celebrates the achievements of women and promotes gender equality. This year’s official theme of the UN observance of the day is ‘Invest in women: Accelerate progress’.

In a statement published on 8 March, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), pointed out that women are disproportionately affected by climate change and extreme poverty.

According to UN Women, one in every 10 women in the world lives in extreme poverty while climate change is set to leave 236 million more women and girls hungry by 2030, twice as many as men (131 million). Conflicts are also affecting women around the world, with 614 million women and girls living in conflict-affected areas, double the number of 2017.

UN Women estimates that more than 100 million women and girls could be lifted out of poverty if governments prioritised education and family planning, fair and equal wages, and expanded social benefits. According to the organisation, closing gender employment gaps could boost gross domestic product per capita by 20% across all regions.

The UN holds its 68th annual Commission on the Status of Women (CSW68) from 11 – 22 March at its headquarters in New York where it will be calling on Member States to back up their commitments on gender equality with resources.