Special issue - Women in Co-operation

This special edition of the Journal focuses on the significant roles that women play in fostering co-operation and in the development of the co-operative movement and co-operatives.

Table of Contents

Peer reviewed papers

Black women as co-operators: Rotating savings and credit associations (ROSCAs) in the Caribbean and Canada 

Caroline Shenaz Hossein, pp. 7-18.

Rotating Savings and Credit Associations (ROSCAs) are co-operative banking systems embedded in social relationships, and the women who participate in these institutions organise them to be compassionate and considerate of people’s social lives in relation to business needs. This study draws on multiple methods to research the attitudes of Black women who participate in ROSCAs in low-income communities in four Caribbean countries and in Canada’s largest city, Toronto. Interviews and focus groups were held with 332 people in Jamaica, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti, and Canada from June 2007 to July 2015. This paper uses a historical account of ROSCAs to argue that the Black women organise peer-to-peer (P2P) lending alongside conventional banks not only to meet their livelihood needs but also to help their family, friends, and community. 

Hossein, 2015.

The intersection of race and gender in leadership of co-operatives: Of whom, by whom, and for whom.

Ushnish Sengupta , pp. 19-28.

This paper describes the intersection of class, gender and race in the leadership of co-operatives in North America. Movement of labour across North American borders changes the membership of co-operatives as well as the leadership and formation of co-operatives. The socio-economic shifts that affect co-operatives are also accompanied by marginalisation of particular populations. Although women and racial minorities have made some advances in equity in co-operatives, racialized women in particular are not represented in leadership positions in co-operatives in proportion to membership in the broader population. In this context, international co-operative principles remain ideals to aspire to rather than a reality in practice. On an optimistic note, co-operatives continue to be more egalitarian organisations than other types of organisations and therefore have the potential for leading as positive role models, addressing the intersection of gender and race for other organisations to follow.

Sengupta, 2015.

Short papers

Taking stock — Researching women and co-operatives 

Linda Shaw

In the light of increasing attention to the role of women in co-operatives, it seems timely to discuss findings from recent reviews and to propose some next steps in terms of a research agenda. Dr Linda Shaw provides a viewpoint drawing on her own research background both inside and outside the co‑operative movement to consider the roles, participation and contribution of women in co-operatives.

Shaw, 2015.

Women as co-operators 

Gillian Lonergan and Jan Myers, pp. 32-37.

This short paper is prompted by a booklet produced by Pat Stuttard to celebrate the International Year of Co-operation in 2012, and some of the women who feature in the history of the co-operative movement — “the dreamers and adventurers” (Rowbotham, 2010: 3). This review cannot be a complete account of women’s voices, experiences, and actions and there are many names missing from the account below — women such as Jane Addams who set up Hull House, a settlement community in North America and who worked alongside John Dewey; Eleanor Rathbone, or Elizabeth Fry — Quaker and prison reform campaigner. Nor does it mention Sarah Reddish who, at the age of 11, became a silk weaver and was later active in the Manchester suffrage movement, or the women co-operators who worked to provide aid during the Spanish Civil War, so well depicted in some of the paintings by British artists in the recent touring exhibition ‘Conflict and Conscience: British artists and the Spanish civil war’ (Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, and Laing Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne, 2015). It does, however, provide a springboard for further exploration and consideration of women then and now as activists, as peacemakers and as co-operators.

Lonergan & Myers, 2015.

Advancing Gender Equality: the Co-operative Way . By Lisa Schincariol McMurtry and J J McMurtry. 

Reviewed by Jan Myers, pp. 38-39

Myers, 2015.

All Our Own Work: the Co-operative Pioneers of Hebden Bridge and their Mill. By Andrew Bibby 

Reviewed by John Goodman, pp. 40-48.

Goodman, 2015.
Creative Commons License

All works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, subject to a 6-month embargo from date of publication in the Journal

UK Society for Co-operative Studies is registered in England and Wales as a charitable incorporated organisation Number 1175295. Our registered office is Holyoake House, Hanover Street, Manchester, M60 0AS.
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