Co-op women smashing glass ceilings

March 26,2018 - 09:19 PM

Malou Apalisok

Welcoming guests and fellow Capitol workers during the 18th Provincial Women’s Congress to celebrate National Women’s Month (March 14, 2018) Cebu Governor Hilario “Junjun” Davide III had a spot-on message: big applause for women for continuing to smash the glass ceiling in the work place.

The reference to empowered women getting top positions in the hierarchy previously dominated by men set the tone of the co-operative themed Women’s Congress.

The Women’s Congress is an annual program organized by the Provincial Women’s Commission PWC co-chaired by Governor Davide and Vice Governor Agnes Magpale.

For the first time in the international milestone dedicated to women, the 18th Provincial Women’s Congress highlighted the contribution of cooperatives in social and economic development.

In a previous article, I noted the breakthrough event for tackling the promotion and protection of women’s and children’s rights as well as gender equality issues in the perspective of cooperatives.

When I raised the idea of a co-operative themed National Women’s celebration to Vice Governor Agnes Magpale sometime in January this year she didn’t have any second thoughts.

The idea was actually at the back of her mind for some time as she mulled over the future of some 3,000 rural women belonging to 50 associations — beneficiaries of Capitol largesse in terms of free livelihood trainings and technical support for the past 20 years.

For the PWC co-chair, who directs various women and child-centered programs in collaboration with public and private partners, the next best step would be for rural women to join the co-operative movement. I have a feeling that after announcing she is no longer seeking re-election next year, Magpale would like co-op leaders to mentor the rural women in co-op enterprises as a way forward.

And what better way to draw them than to tell the inspiring stories of successful co-operatives, like Lamac Multi Purpose Coop, TMX Credit Cooperative and the start-up Advance Health Care Service Cooperative.

The obverse side of their amazing journeys are the struggles of women running these notable organizations like Ellen Limocon of Lamac MPC, Doris Canares of TMX and Dr. Corazon Canete of AHCS.

Like many other co-op leaders, tey have gone through a lot both at home and at work but they prevailed through prayers, hard work and perseverance proving themselves role models and that makes the co-operative option even more compelling.

The status of Ellen, Doris and Dr. Corazon in their respective organizations makes a strong argument for co-ops as the impetus for breaking the glass ceiling – that invisible barrier that keeps a given demographic, especially women from rising to the top echelon.

Indeed, while the glass ceiling effect keeps women from climbing the corporate ladder, co-operatives appear to have dropped the gender bias by getting women run the day to day operations while men formulate policies through a gender balanced board.

In other co-ops, women are chairing the policy making body while men tend the business operations, as with the case of Cebu Peoples’ MPC. Alyn Ladonga chairs the board while Macario Quevedo is chief executive officer CEO.

Meanwhile, at the Cebu News Workers Co-op, Elias Baquero chairs the policy making body while Evelyn Sarsale takes care of business operations.

In Lamac MPC the board is composed of 60% men and 40% women with Delfin Tuquib at the helm.

The same equation applies in the administrative side of LMPC’s business operations. This is a policy that mainstreams GAD in the co-op’s29 branches throughout the Visayas.

Needless to say, the Lamac’s GAD approach has become a template for the GAD mainstreaming among co-ops not just in the PH but also in the Asia Pacific region.

Speaking of Gender and Development GAD, I’m pleased to report that after the Women’s Month celebrations, co-op stakeholders will segue to the 3rd National Summit on GAD in Cooperatives after Easter.

The GAD summit will have for its theme, “PH Co-ops Stepping Up on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals through GAD

Mainstreaming”. To be held at the Waterfront Hotel in Lahug, Cebu City (April 03 – April 05) the gathering is co-organized by the Gender and Equality Resource Center, Inc. and the Cooperative Development Authority.

The Philippine Commission on Women defines GAD as “development perspective and process that is participatory and empowering, equitable, sustainable, free from violence, respectful of human rights, supportive of self-determination and actualization of human potentials.”

The GAD approach is not only focused on women, “but with the way in which a society assigns roles, responsibilities, and expectations to both men and women.” The legal basis is RA 7192 aka Women in Development and Nation Building Act.

Ms. Maria Fe A. Cabral, program analyst and GAD focal person of the United Nations Development Programme UNDP Philippines is scheduled to deliver a message along with other noteworthy co-operative and civil society leaders including high-ranking officials of Cooperative Development Authority CDA led by Chairman Orlanda Ravanera and Administrator Mercedes Castillo.

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TAGS: co-op, glass, women

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