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Lakeland Dairies, the island’s largest cross border dairy co-operative, has launched a targeted campaign to encourage more women and other family members to become involved as shareholders in the co-op. Pictured at Virginia Show are (L/R) Susan Casey, Lakeland Dairies Teagasc Joint Programme; Niall Matthews, Chair and Sinéad Brady Lakeland Agri

At a general meeting of its members Lakeland Dairies Co-operative amended its rules to recognise and promote a diverse and inclusive membership. References to gender were also neutralised as part of the rule changes. These steps demonstrate the seriousness of the sector to act under the ICOS charter on the participation of women in co-operatives.

Speaking after the overwhelming shareholder support for this amendment, Lakeland Chairman and ICOS Dairy Committee Chairman Niall Matthews said: “Lakeland Dairies is a progressive, modern and sustainable co-operative, producing food to the highest standards while supporting the wellbeing of our farm families and rural communities. We want to sustain that in every way possible for the future and having greater diversity throughout our shareholder base is a key part of that process.”

Earlier this year ICOS gender equality charter which was published. The charter is aimed at promoting, facilitating, and developing the participation of women in Irish co-operatives and their boards.

The charter focuses on actively promoting gender equality in all of society and particularly in Co-ops. One of the resolutions of the charter states, “ICOS co-operatives will commit to having the item of female board representation, and methods to increase female representation on their agenda for discussion at their next AGM with the stated aim of appointing a working group tasked with finding ways (while cognisant of limitations and circumstances in individual co-ops) of identifying female candidates for board elections.”

ICOS congratulates Lakeland Dairies Co-operative Society on the work it is doing to embrace gender diversity.