She-Coops works through creation of Shared Interest or Common Ownership models/forms of Societies made up of exclusively Women. Each Society is made up of a minimum of 20 and maximum of 200,000 Women who come together for a common cause to raise and manage resources for the benefit of their lives both economically, socially and for the welfare of their families. It brings to members the advantage of joining forces to champion their own successes by working together and become autonomous and self reliant, individually and collectively, both economically and in terms of their decision making ability. It brings to Women greater economic security, enhanced status and voice in the community and society in general.
It is professionally rolled-out as a model to raise women’s participation in Co-operatives around the world and strengthen its pool of prospective member education on Co-operative values and principles. According to the Growth and Economic Opportunities for Women (GrOW) research shows that if Women’s participation in Co-operatives is raised, economic and social development will follow. SHE-COOPS will effectively facilitate Women’s increased and meaningful participation in Co-operatives and co-create a model for development that is fairer, more participative, human, sustainable, feminist and based on solidarity. A model including values like care, and community work, commitment to people, self management, mutual-aid, and collaboration. It utilizes the International Labour Organization (ILO) Think Coop & Start Coop Manuals as Co-operatives have been used by generations and have gone to scale in empowering people in their businesses and communities.
Globally, Women remain widely under-represented and suffer a disproportionately low representation in Co-operatives constituting fewer than 25% of its entire movement; a situation which private sector studies reveal has refused to change due to gender norms on the traditional role of Women and other instilled cultural practices. Joining a Co-operative offers a means of exercising voice and accessing leadership that would otherwise not be open to Women. Co-operatives are more or less outlets for the voices of those whose voice would otherwise not be heard and as vectors of economic transformation, Co-operatives operate in the best interests of their members and communities. Thus, the value of Co-operatives in improving Women’s lives and livelihoods cannot be over-emphasized as it remains an important agency to improve their well-being, and help Women unto the ladder of economic activity. When Women are enabled to join and effectively participate in Co-operatives, the gains in terms of economic, social or psychological effects are significant. Despite their demographic dominance, Women are known to have a lower socio-economic set up and face wide gaps in economic opportunity due to many constraints and limitations imposed on them by society and the economy; meaning opportunities for advancing Women’s economic empowerment are missed. In order to protect themselves against the hard conditions of the market economy and society, we founded an international movement that will give Women around the world opportunity to join Co-operatives and go into businesses for themselves on the basis of economic democracy.
Co-operatives are transformative businesses that encourage self responsibility and present distinct advantages to Women as they remain rare in comparison with the increasingly common appearance of more informal Women groups. Since Women dominate the informal sector and are a linchpin in grass-root economic development, Co-operatives can be used as breeding grounds for their socio-economic empowerment and remains an important vehicle that can contribute to increasing the social status of Women. SHE-COOPS aims to meaningfully contribute in helping Women develop the confidence to participate more actively in Co-operatives by improving their level of knowledge and awareness which will ultimately motivate and increase their involvement.
Participation is one of the Co-operative sectors most valuable assets and a major of the five pillars of the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) Blueprint 2020 Agenda. However, this goal has not yet translated into policies and programs in the Co-operative sub-sector. SHE-COOPS will contribute concretely in advancing this legitimate goal of the International Co-operative Alliance, as the business case on the Blueprint 2020 is clear, but we aren’t seeing progress as Women continue to be outnumbered 5 to 1 in any ICA panel. As an objective measure of our success, SHE-COOPS will ensure that 50% of Women across national boundaries are well integrated into Co-operatives by 2050. A new analysis by International Campaign for Women’s right to join Co-operatives (ICWR-C) shows that, though Women comprise more than 50% of the world’s population, their participation in Co-operatives as members and workers can be much higher than overall labour force participation in Countries. Economically strengthening Women is not only a means by which to spur and sustain inclusive development, it is also a matter of advancing Women’s human rights.
Thus, supporting Women to participate equally in Co-operatives could raise the Global Co-operative value by $2.5 to $5 trillion. Co-operatives is a key strategy to empowering people and communities and over 12% of humanity contribute to one of the 3 million Co-operatives on the planet. It’s tremendous economic and social contributions if leveraged upon, will help shift social norms and a powerful lever for advancing gender equality, expand rural livelihood opportunities and boost rural household (family) incomes including overall socio-economic well-being, while facilitating greater business opportunities and market linkages through participation in value chains.
Joining SHE-COOPS holds much potential to empower Women economically by enhancing their collective power and enabling them to leverage enhanced market opportunities and a critical link to the formal economy. It is a vehicle to enable Women become leaders, unite in solidarity and provide a network of mutual support to overcome restrictions to pursue commercial or economic activities and also make Women’s voice to be heard from an under-represented silence to an amplified level.