Today, March 21, during the 66th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW66), the WFO Member Organisation Indian Co-operative Network for Women (ICNW) hosted the virtual side event COVID – Heroines Women micro-entrepreneurs warriors combat COVID 19 – Working Women’s Forum/Indian Cooperative Network for Women.

Moderated by Dr Nandini AzadPresident at the Indian Cooperative Network for Women (ICNW) and active member of the WFO Working Groups on Cooperatives (of which she is also the facilitator) and Women, the side event featured the participation of prominent representatives of stakeholders committed to cooperative development and gender equity strategies: Wenyan Yang, Chief, Global Dialogue for Development Branch, United Nations Division for Inclusive Social Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), Andreas Kappes, Secretary-General, International Raiffeisen Union (IRU), Hirofumi Kobayashi, Executive Director, Institute for the Development of Agricultural Cooperation in Asia (IDACA), Akihiro Yamakoshi, Japanese Consumer Cooperative Union (JCCU) and Luisa Volpe, Head of Policy Development at the World Farmers’ Organisation (WFO).

The discussion aimed to reiterate the importance of empowering women in the context of climate change, environmental and disaster risk reduction policies and programmes, starting from recognising the crucial role they have been playing for inclusive and resilient recovery from COVID-19.

Luisa Volpe took the opportunity to highlight women farmers’ fundamental role, especially under emergency conditions like COVID-19. Women are resilient by nature, capable of taking care, creating and curating relationships and connections at the family and community levels. Unfortunately, women farmers struggle to be recognised and face enormous barriers, especially in some world areas.

In this context, agricultural cooperatives play a crucial role in empowering rural women and enhancing their position economically and socially, ensuring them easier access to markets, services, resources, education, creating jobs and more inclusive and sustainable business models, thus contributing to rural areas’ social and economic development.

That is why women’s empowerment is one of the main pillars of the WFO advocacy and policy work and should be mainstreamed in all policy processes.