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On the occasion of the 34 edition of International Women’s Day, the ESS Forum International looks at the place that women occupy in the social and solidarity economy. See next Article.

The social economy or social and solidarity Economy (SSE) as an alternative economy to classical market logic, whose aim is to reconcile economic activity with social equity is understood as this approach to Ensure professional equality between women and men, in particular by allowing a better articulation between the personal and professional life of employees, or by promoting women’s access to all positions of responsibility.

In referring to this effect to women, it is now important to ask the question of what is the place of women in the social and solidarity economy?


The place of women in the social and solidarity economy and gender disparities

Like other workplaces and in particular the associative community, the sector of the social and solidarity Economy knows Gender disparities. Women are the majority among the employees, but the positions at high levels of responsibility and the presidencies of the major associations tend to be exercised predominantly by men. Recently, the ESS sector has begun to reflect on gender equality issues and made a number of commitments.

This 34th edition of the International Day of women’s rights celebrated this March 08, 2019 is an opportunity to take a look at this issue of equality between men and women in the different organizations of the promotion and valorisation of the SSE all over the world.

The findings observed in particular by the Supreme Council of the Social and Solidarity Economy (SCSSE), in its first report on equality between women and men in SSE adopted on 7 February 2017 (report on the governance of ESS, equality in employment and trades, the creation of enterprises and women’s initiatives, and the means to gather, support and energize existing resources for equality between women and men in the SSE) show that our organizations still have a lot of progress to make.

  • In France, for example,

women work mainly in associations, mutuals and foundations that have clearly female salaried teams with rates close to 70%, while cooperatives account for only 45% of women in their Employees (SCOP 27%). In mutual societies, they are more present in mutual societies (77%) Insurance (64%) “. Moreover they work “mainly in social action 75%, financial activities 61%, education 63%, health 79%. However, this is not a characteristic of ESS organisations: the very high rate of female employment in the social and solidarity economy is the result of the strong involvement of the social and solidarity economy in areas of activity Where women’s jobs are traditionally over-represented. ” (Information from “ESS to feminine, and if everyone wins”, 2011? In the associations, only 34% of the associations have a wife for president.

  • In co-ops, the situation differs depending on the type of co-operative: If the beneficiary is a member, there are more female members. but in corporate co-ops where membership requires executive status, women are much less present.


Cooperative banks: average of 30% of administrators in local funds, 19.2% in federations.

SCOP: 25% female presidents, 31% salaried, 26% associated employees. Agricultural cooperatives: 24% of female operators, between 5 and 7%

Artisan co-operatives: 4% of women leaders

Cooperative consumers: 40%

school co-operatives: 67.7% of teachers are women, but 50% of women presidents. (Figures from the 2017 report on equality between women and men in ESS).

Overall, the ESS sector accounted for 67% of salaried women, whose 53% in the management posts this proportion reversing for the accompanying trades which comprise 63% female


                                                                 A feminist approach to SSE?


The scope of the social and solidarity economy has thus recently seized on gender issues, mainly in terms of professional, wage and decision-making equality. In general, it is surprising that there are few gender studies and gender data in the field of social economy. Paradoxically in an area where social justice issues and reflection on the economic model are preponderant, and where many women tend to feel more at ease in collective entrepreneurship promoting networking and trust, analyses Gender in the sense of “the feminist economy”, ecofeminism, work on environmental “care”, etc… are little known and valued, especially in Western countries.


In developing countries, many, social movements, especially women, often in direct contact with environmental, economic and social imbalances and inequalities, and rights violations, are putting in place Resistance measures, concrete actions and political advocacy.


These few figures are quite paradoxical, since the values of equality and social justice are among the values promoted by ESS. They must alert us to the necessary vigilance in our initiatives, the search for a better balance between women and men in our political and leadership bodies. Therefore, it will be necessary to reinvent the ESS at all scales in order not only to help the woman in defending her rights, but also to promote a more substantial insertion of women in the spheres of decision-making as well as men for the good of societies and of mankind as a whole.

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