- Htun Tin Htun
Aim high, Think Global, Act local. Always be creative and innovative to think how to include women members in different operations of cooperative enterprises. The Paraguayan statistics follow national trends, which show that savings and credit cooperatives have higher rates of female participation than agricultural cooperatives. For this reason, it is important to mention that most of the CDP participant cooperatives do not have savings and credit operations. This is likely an important factor in explaining why Manduvira’s rates of female participation are so high above the average.
Teamwork, team building and effective team development need to be built up and developed within the cooperatives in order to create more opportunities for women to lead the cooperatives. According to the Observatorio del Sector Cooperativo Paraguayo (OBSECOOPY), Paraguayan savings and credit cooperatives have achieved gender parity in membership. These cooperatives also have a much higher percentage of female presidents. However, it is important to keep in mind that a large number of these cooperatives are located in the capital of Asuncion and provide services to professional men and women.
Inclusiveness is one of the elements of good cooperative governance. Manduvira stands out among CDP participant cooperatives in its rates of female-elected leadership as well. While over half of the CDP participant cooperatives do not have a single female-elected leader, 24 percent of Manduvira’s 17 elected leaders are women. The positions held by women are Treasurer for the Board of Directors, Alternate for the Board of Directors, President of the Electoral Committee, and member of the Electoral Committee. There are also women in the Solidarity Committee, Education Committee, Credit Committee, and various staff management positions.
Our Vision is to protect, preserve, promote and perpetuate Our Planet, Our Dignity, Our Equity, Our Equality, and Our Future. One for all and all for one is our motto for democratic organization. Each for all and all for each is our motto for social services. In both of its operations, Manduvira adheres strongly to the principle that men and women should be treated equally. In 1999 the cooperative began to certify its sugar as fair trade and continues to do so through Fairtrade International (FLO). In order to achieve the fair-trade certification, the cooperative has to comply with the standards set forth by FLO.
Not for profit but for service. From egg to electricity. From cradle to the grave. From primary health care to hospital care. From Microfinance to Cooperative Bank. From farm products to funeral services. Thrift is the back-rock of cooperation. No pain, no gain. More pain, more gain. As one male leader said, the principles of fair trade state very clearly that “there is no type of discrimination, whether political, whether religious, gender.” Several leaders described the cooperative as “open” to women or stated that there was “space” for women to participate as members and leaders.