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Irish Co-operative Organisation launches National Gender Equality Charter - aims to alter ‘abject imbalance’ in co-op sector - ICOS, the policy and representative body for the Irish co-operative movement, including the dairy processing co-operatives and livestock marts, has published a National Gender Equality Charter for member co-operatives. Launching the Charter, ICOS President James O’Donnell was joined on his farm at Golden, Co. Tipperary by Vanessa Kiely-O’Connor, a board member of Bandon Co-operative (on left) and Ann Kinane-Creamer, a board member of Tipperary Co-operative. Picture by Alf Harvey (NO REPRO FEE / FREE TO USE).

We are into the busy AGM time of the year for many co-ops. ICOS is encouraged to see that members are embracing the ICOS gender equality charter which was published in March.

The charter is aimed at promoting, facilitating, and developing the participation of women in Irish co-operatives and their boards.

ICOS is happy to report that several member co-operatives are taking action to prioritise and progress the participation of their female farmer members. 

Next month, two large agrifood co-operatives shareholders will vote to revamp their co-operatives’ rules to make them gender neutral. This follows the lead of one dairy and agri business co-operative society who broke new ground in December by becoming the first ICOS co-operative to embrace and adopt these changes. 

This positive change is but one important step on the road to implementing real and meaningful female participation for these pioneering co-operatives. ICOS anticipates that other co-ops will implement the ICOS gender neutral rulebook in the months and years to come.

This comes after the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue stated that he will refuse the nomination of male candidates to state boards if organisations do not show a genuine commitment to prioritising the nomination of women. His aim is to increase the representation of male and female board members to a minimum of 40%, and ICOS supports the Minister’s initiative.