Until recently, the presence of women as counselors or presidents of cooperatives in the agri-food sector was non-existent or anecdotal. However, and thanks to the work that Agro-food Cooperatives of Andalusia has been carrying out since 2010, the reality today is different, although there is still a long way to go.
Thus, in the last decade, the number of women members in cooperatives in the region has increased from 25% to 30%, while the number of women farmers in the governing councils has evolved from 3.5% to 5%. They are data extracted from the last Socioeconomic Observatory of the Spanish Agrifood Cooperativism (OSCAE), which reflect a remarkable improvement, the result of the effort in sensitization and training that the federation develops among its associated entities.
To print the rhythm of equality in cooperatives, last year it created the Association of Women of Agro-food Cooperatives of Andalusia (AMCAE-Andalucía) whose main mission is to work towards a greater presence and participation of women farmers and ranchers in the decision-making and management bodies of the cooperatives.
Therefore, in order to achieve this objective it is crucial to have a strong and dynamic association, the federation is developing the project ‘Expert intermediation for the promotion of the association of cooperative women’, by the Ministry of Employment, Training and Autonomous Work of the Junta de Andalucía. It is an initiative under line 3 of the Program to Support the Promotion and Development of the Social Economy for Employment.
The program has different actions, which are basically made known by making the association known to the maximum number of members possible, considerably increasing the number of members of the association and knowing the barriers that prevent or hinder their participation and access to decision-making bodies. of cooperatives (assemblies and governing councils), in order to design future strategies to minimize and tear them down.
To this end, Agro-food Cooperatives of Andalusia is finalizing the holding of up to 40 informative meetings by the different provinces of Andalusia, in which AMCAE and its purposes are known, while distributing a survey among the participants, and adding farmers and livestock to strengthen the association project.
In their short career, the representatives of AMCAE and even the entity itself have been recognized with different awards. The next one, the ON ONCE Andalucía Solidarity Award ’will pick it up on September 25, at the Gran Teatro Falla de Cádiz, its president, Pilar Gómez Fernández, in turn, livestock and advisor of the Covap cooperative (Pozoblanco, Córdoba).
Together with her, the association is composed, Adela Romero Ruano, partner of Olivarera Nuestra Señora del Carmen (Cuevas de San Marcos, Málaga) and vice president of AMCAE; Ana María Morales Domínguez, partner of Our Lady of the Rosary (Algodonales, Cádiz); María Isabel Molina Contreras, partner of Costa de Huelva (Lucena del Puerto, Huelva); Raquel Santiago Moya, partner of Our Lady of Remedies (Los Noguerones, Jaén); María Dolores Corral Martínez, partner of Esperanza del Campo (Cuevas del Campo, Granada), and Carmen Bermúdez-Colonel García de Vinuesa, partner of Oleand (La Puebla de Cazalla, Sevilla).
The vast majority of representatives hold positions of responsibility as counselors, managers and even at the head of the presidency in their respective cooperatives. The AMCAE-Andalucía secretariat is exercised by Amparo Martín Fernández, responsible for Equality in Agro-food Cooperatives of Andalusia.
Among the acknowledgments mentioned, it is worth mentioning the ‘Women’s Initiative’ award from the Ministry of Agriculture awarded to Pilar Gómez Fernández in November 2018 or the honorary award received in January 2019 by María Dolores Corral Martínez, president of the cooperative, in the I edition of the ‘Woman Agro’ awards for her commitment and permanent dedication to the issues of equal opportunities within agrifood cooperatives.
On the other hand, Carmen Bermúdez-Colonel García de Vinuesa collected in the name of her then cooperative, Nuestra Señora de Las Virtudes – currently merged with San José in Oleand-, the ‘Equal Opportunities’ prize of Agro-food Cooperatives of Spain, in its 2018 edition, for its role as a leading entity in the sector in terms of implementation of equality policies and measures.