The promise cooperatives hold for women, economic empowerment.“The power latent within cooperatives comes from their focus on both social and economic outcomes for their members and their adherence to a common set of principles, which include democratic control and economic participation”(Hotel, 2019).
Data from The International Cooperative Research Group’s “What Difference do Cooperatives Make? Kenya.” shows great potential for the women of Kenya who are members of cooperatives.
In Kenya, women represent only 30% of cooperative membership however, evidence from the study shows that those women who are cooperative members are better off economically than those who are not, making 54% more than women who are not members. These findings indicate the benefits that cooperatives can have for women (improved gender equality). They have prompted policymakers to take steps to encourage greater inclusion of women as members of cooperatives.
Policymakers see the cooperative difference.
On April 2nd, 2019, The Kenyan Principal Secretary of Trade and Industry responsible for cooperatives in Kenya committed in a written statement, based on research indicating the favorable impact on women’s incomes, the Kenyan Ministry will undertake new activities to encourage and facilitate greater inclusion of women in formal cooperatives.
“The International Cooperative Research Group, under OCDC, has undertaken important research which shows cooperative membership greatly economically benefits men and women. However there remains more to be done in enabling these benefits to be more widely shared through greater cooperative membership both in urban and pre-urban communities … this study postulates a very important shift that requires involvement of women in the cooperative activities as a critical component to sustainable cooperative development. We know that cooperatives create social and economic growth and it is import that all people have access to cooperatives to fully capitalize on their important impacts. I hope these findings would spur further debate on the role played by women in cooperatives. My department will endeavor to support activities geared towards improving the cooperative sector by increasing the involvement of women as members and leaders.” Mr. Ali Noor Ismail. Kenya Principal Secretary, State Department of Cooperative Development.
The Power of Cooperatives.
With the aggregating power of cooperatives, the level of trust among members, their inherent scalability, and the positive base of economic performance found in the research, cooperatives appear to be an important vehicle for Kenya’s continued self-reliance, resilience, and greater gender equality.
All over the world cooperatives are essential to improving the livelihoods of people living in rural communities. In Africa, where Kenya is a widely acknowledged cooperative leader (with a history of cooperatives dating back to the first part of the 20th century) 40% of households are cooperative members.
In Kenya, cooperatives are active among most economic centers and throughout the country, providing livelihoods to an estimated 63% of the population and contributing significantly to the overall economy. It has mobilized resources and assets that are worth over KSh 875 billion (approximately US$10 billion).