This past week we were asked to research more information regarding woman’s cooperatives in developing countries, so Bridget and I decided to tackle that part of the coursework. From our research, we dug up a lot of interesting information about cooperatives primarily in Africa. I thought it was really interesting the amount of support that co-ops provide for women in a variety of cultures. I love the sense of community that the co-ops provide for the women, which in many developing country cultures, a community is important for many women. It also provides a sense of economic security for these women who may not have a steady source of their own income. These co-ops often promote furthering a woman’s education so that they can contribute to society at large.
However, through our research, we also discovered some barriers that many of these women face when it comes to operating and participating in these independent cooperatives. In many cases, cultural norms prevent many women from being able to work outside of the home. There is a heavy patriarchal system established in many developing countries, where woman are expected to control the household while the men go out and work. This leaves the women involved in co-ops with mountains of housework to balance once they get home. Because of these cultural norms, it can be difficult for the women running the co-ops to receive state funding so they heavily rely on outside donors.
Going forward with this project, we need to be aware of where the funding for this project is coming from or if there is none we need to find reliable funding for these women. Depending on the cultural norms of the Philipines, will the government be willing to donate money to this cooperative? And are the women running their households as well when they get home? Gaining a cultural perspective when it comes to initiating projects such as this one is very important to take into consideration. We have to ensure that we aren’t organizing a system that would either go against the cultural norms of the community or create any extra stressors in the women’s lives. It’s difficult to do this research in such early stages of the program, especially since we aren’t on the ground interacting with the women we will be supporting.
Another source of funding we could look to consider would be funding directly from the United Nations. In the past, they have been known to support a variety of cooperatives in developing nations. We would obviously have to be farther along with a project proposal before moving on with a step as large as that.