Cycle of exchanges – rural women and cooperativism: inspiring shared experiences

The WRF, together with six participating member organisations, organised in March and April 2022 two webinars, within the series Rural Women and Cooperativism. Insightful and valuable experiences of women’s farming groups or cooperatives from East and Central Africa, Latin America and Asia were shared. 

The Rural Women and Cooperativism virtual exchange cycle aimed to promote the catalytic role of association and cooperativism in the economic empowerment and resilience building of rural women. It is the second phase of the project “Strengthening the capacities of farmers’ organisations to promote policy and legal frameworks for rural women’s economic empowerment and resilience through association and cooperativism, taking the opportunity of the implementation of the United Nations Decade for Family Farming 2019-2028 (UNDFF)“, funded by the Forest and Farm Facility (FFF).

This project is carried out by the World Rural Forum, in close collaboration with six regional farming organisations, members, representing different areas of Africa, Asia and the Americas: PROPAC, Central Africa (Plateforme Régionale des Organisations Paysannes d’Afrique Centrale); ESAFF, Eastern and Southern Africa (Eastern and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers’ Forum (ESAFF) ; REFACOF, Central and East Africa (Réseau des Femmes Africaines pour la gestion Communautaire des Forêts); PDRR, Central America (Programa de Diálogo Regional Rural); COPROFAM, South America (Confederación de Organizaciones de Productores Familiares del MERCOSUR), AFA, Asia (Asian Farmers Association).

The exchange cycle promoted six of the experiences and good practices of rural women’s cooperatives and associations identified in the framework of the project. It included two webinars, each one presenting three experiences, highlighting the diversity and dynamism of the cooperatives. It promoted very valuable and inspiring experiences of women’s agricultural groups and cooperatives:

First webinar:

  • the Yen Duong Cooperative from Vietnam, producing rice, vegetables, tea;
  • the Collective of Women Family Farmers (COFEAF), from Democratic Republic of Congo, producing peanuts, cassava, maize, vegetables;
  • the Café Femenino, MOBI Group – Organised Women Seeking Equality, Brazil, specialized in coffee production

The program can be consulted here.

Second webinar:

  • The Mitsinjo Professional Organisation from Madagascar, a groundnut and maize producer;
  • the multi-sectoral cooperative Gloria Quintanilla from Nicaragua, specialised in coffee production;
  • the Kinole farmers’ cooperative in Tanzania, producing spices and vegetables.

The program can be consulted here.

The two webinars were attended by approximately 140 participants, from Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America, representing farmers’ organisations, civil society and private sector organisations, international agencies and research centres.

The different speakers emphasised the central role of associations and cooperatives in empowering rural women. Cooperatives offer solutions for generating income, accessing markets, improving production conditions and fighting poverty. Cooperativism was highlighted as a response to the challenges faced by women farmers: improved market access, risk reduction through diversification and financing, capacity building, negotiation, participation of women in all decision-making processes.

The importance of supporting cooperativism was stressed, with the need for public policies and programmes that promote and support this type of organisation, enabling improving socio-economic conditions of women farmers, fostering employment and transparency governance.

For the World Rural Forum, it is key to ensure that women family farmers can have the frameworks, mechanisms and incentives to unlock their enormous potential towards sustainable, resilient, inclusive and viable food systems.

In this regard, the WRF will continue to work in the framework of the enormous opportunity that cooperativism and the United Nations Decade of Family Farming (UNDFF) 2019-2028 represent.