Congress event: What next for women in the co-operative movement?

Women in Co-ops flier

The Co-operative College is teaming up with the Co-operative News and Co-operatives UK to ask ‘What next for women in the co-operative movement’ at a special event at Co-operative Congress.

The panel will take place on Friday 17 June from 2.30-4pm at Unity Works in Wakefield and aims to appeal to members and co-operatives of all models, sectors and sizes. It will invite discussion around the issues affecting women in the co-operative movement, as well as the support currently available and called for by women in co-operatives, alongside changes which can be made and next steps, including how change can be measured.

The event follows a joint project between the College and Co-operatives UK to revisit the Co-operative Women’s Challenge. The Women’s Challenge was launched in 2011, to work towards three main objectives by 2020:

  • Achieving equity in representation in our democratic structures.
  • Having more women in senior management roles within our corporate structure and businesses.
  • Campaigning for gender equality across economic and social participation, in order that women’s voices can be heard and that society’s structures and actions better reflect the makeup of the population.

At the start of 2016 the Co-operative College was commissioned to interview a range of women across diverse sectors of the co-operative movement, to discuss what being a member of a co-operative means to them, and gauge their opinions on what is and can be done to support women’s development, engagement, empowerment and leadership in co-operatives.

The interviews invited women to reflect on and discuss a number of questions, including:

  • What does being a member of a co-operative mean to you?
  • How do you think women’s position in your co-operative compares to other types of businesses?
  • Do co-operatives do enough to facilitate women’s development and visibility?
  • What examples of good practice have you encountered?
  • Are the challenges still the same as those set out by the Women’s Challenge in 2011, and has anything changed?

Co-operatives UK has compiled short highlights of the interviews into a presentation, which will be shown at Congress.

For more information about the Congress event, and to register for free tickets, visit

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