Co-operative and mutual enterprises (CMEs) have a long history of empowering women. Women had an equal vote in co-operative leadership decades before they could vote for parliament. In 1846, Eliza Brierley became the first woman member of a co-operative.

Last year, the International Co-operative Alliance and the International Labor Organization surveyed the co-operatives sector globally, and found that, while women make up more than half the membership of co-ops, they are significantly under-represented at management and leadership levels. Preliminary research conducted by Per Capita for the BCCM has found a similar pattern in the CME sector in Australia.

Source: Per Capita

With its strong history of involving and empowering women, the CME sector is in a unique position to take a leadership role in addressing the gender gap at Executive and Board level, but more work is needed to identify the cultural and structural barriers.

The BCCM and Per Capita are seeking partners in the CME sector to join with us to complete this research. Together we will track women’s participation in governance, and develop best practice programs to increase the representation of women at the highest levels of the CME sector in Australia.

Are you interested?
Please contact Melina Morrison, CEO BCCM, if you are interested to know more or wish to get involved in Eliza’s Project:

Image: Betty Cooper (playing Eliza Brierley) from the new Rochdale Pioneers Film.

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