On International Women’s Day, why co-ops matter for women around the world

Abelina dos Santos stands in her cassava field in East Timor.Abelina dos Santos stands in her cassava field in East Timor.Abelina dos Santos stands in her cassava field in East Timor.This year’s International Women’s Day theme, "Women in the Changing World of Work," speaks directly to the challenge women have in participating fully in the economy. From issues of equal pay to ownership, women are making strides but still have far to go. Women’s participation in co-op businesses—as farmers, leaders of financial institutions, innovators and community organizers—are the exact reasons why co-ops provide a better business platform for women. With equal voice in democratic governance and opportunities to own the businesses they work in, co-ops are the business model women should look at in a changing world of work.

Through the four stories that follow, women demonstrate why cooperatives are a tool for their economic participation and opportunity, and the preferred business model for building resilient communities.

Women like Abelina dos Santos who is growing some of the first ever cassava in East Timor and through her co-op is buying back the flour and starting a local baking business with her women’s association.

Read Abelina’s story.

Angelita outside her coffee co-op in Guatemala. Angelita outside her coffee co-op in Guatemala. Angelita outside her coffee co-op in Guatemala. Women like Khady Ciss, who is innovating the way millet is packaged in Senegal and working with producer groups to help them market their products collectively.

Read Khady’s story.

Women like Angelita Paz Cardona, who—at just 18 years old—is working with community members on nutrition education and financial management trainings after connecting to support through her local coffee co-op in Guatemala.

Read Angelita’s story.

And women like the heads of mutual insurers around the world, who are nine times more likely to rise to leadership positions at cooperatives than in corporate insurance or financial institutions.

Read the study.

This International Women’s Day, we celebrate the achievements women have made around the world in areas of economic participation, entrepreneurship and community building. Co-ops are helping them reach their goals.



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