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The ICA Asia and Pacific Committee on Women (Women’s Committee) celebrated its 25th anniversary on 19 September 2023. Established in 1998, in Seoul, South Korea, it is one of the ten regional committees and promotes gender inclusion and equality in cooperatives in the Asia and Pacific.


To commemorate the day, a special event on the theme, ‘Gender Equality for a Brighter Future’ was hosted by the Japanese Consumers’ Co-operative Union (JCCU) in Tokyo in collaboration with the Women’s Committee. The programme on 19 September was hybrid and was attended by 169 delegates (98 onsite and 71 online). 


The anniversary event was celebrated together with the Women’s Committee members and upcoming women leaders in the cooperative sector from different countries, ICA Asia and Pacific representatives, ICA members and cooperators from Japan, supporters and well-wishers of the Women’s Committee, advocates of gender equality from international organizations such as the UN Women and public officials from the Government of Japan.



Ms. Kae Ishikawa, Director of the UN Women Japan Liaison Office opened the program with a keynote lecture on ‘SDG 5: Achieving Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women in Asia and in the World’. She highlighted that the COVID-19 pandemic, civil wars, armed conflicts, and climate change have slowed down the progress of SDG 5 globally. She underlined the importance of speed and sincerity in actions taken by advocates and promoters of gender equality around the world.


The event was symbolic as the Women’s Committee walked down memory lane and showcased significant moments and accomplishments realized over the last 25 years. A special video was created for this which can be watched here


Congratulating the Committee on this milestone, special greetings were shared by the ICA-AP President Dr. Chandrapal Singh Yadav; the Head of the Cooperatives Unit at the ILO Ms. Simel Esim; and a former Vice-Chairperson of the Women’s Committee Ms. Junko Ito. The Committee received many best compliments from its well-wishers which can be read in the 25th anniversary booklet. The booklet also covers the history and work of the Committee, case studies from members, and op-eds on gender equality in the past, today and in the future. 



The event presented an avenue for Committee members to exhibit their interventions on gender equality and engage in enriching dialogue. Thematic presentations were made by Committee members on the topics – 1) Women Driving Cooperative Development (South Korea) 2) Women at the Decision-Making Table (Nepal) 3) Mainstreaming Gender and Development in Cooperatives (Philippines) 4) Addressing Gender-Based Violence Through Advocacy and Dialogue (India) 5) Priority Areas and Potential Interventions for Women Farmers in Japanese Agricultural Cooperatives (Japan) and 6) How to Involve Young Girls and Women in the Cooperative Sector and Prepare Them to Become Future Leaders? (Malaysia).


The event served as a platform to engage in critical reflections on how the Committee could steer its direction in the future, and identify priority areas that call for action in the next 25 years. Some of the priority areas that were identified are –


  • Reservation for women in decision-making bodies
  • Promoting women's leadership in cooperatives
  • Ensuring gender budgeting in cooperatives
  • involving and capacitating youth 
  • Promoting gender-disaggregated data in cooperatives


Most of these issues are already pursued by the Committee and the need for continuing work on these issues was underlined by the participants of the event.



On 20 September, a field visit was arranged for onsite participants to Co-op Mirai where the participants observed the co-op retail store; and Japanese Workers’ Cooperative Union where they had an opportunity to enhance their understanding of worker cooperatives in Japan.