Gender equality is an essential prerequisite for the development of social solidarity economy 


What are we talking about? What are the challenges?


Gender equality and women’s empowerment are a cross-cutting condition for achieving sustainable human development. Women represent over 50% of the population; they do 66% of work at global level, but receive only 10% of global income. Only 1%of women are land or property owners¹. They are the first to be affected by poverty.

SSE, with an overall objective of supporting equality and sustainable development, has the means of overcoming inequalities (through democratic structures, social change, putting people before profit etc.) Women are by far the majority in the movement: In Europe they account for 66% of people involved in SSE; in Canada, this figure rises to 70%, and it is 80% in Africa ². They contribute to developing the economy everywhere in the world by providing essential services to their communities, creating companies and jobs, and supporting the socio-economic vitality of their territories.

Although they make up the majority, women remain invisible. The realities that the face are often overlooked or dealt with as peripheral to the exchange initiated by local, national and international networks of social solidarity economy. Given that the public sector in different parts of the world is just starting to recognise the added value of SSE to community development, the importance of high-lighting the contribution and skills of women in the SSE sector will ensure that their needs and interests are more taken into consideration.

The key challenges that need to be taken into account in actions undertaken: 

  • The marked lack of any cross-cutting approach to gender equality and gender-specific data (participation, profit-sharing, money generated etc…) within the public sector, SSE and research sector.
  • The limits of SSE in terms of guaranteeing women full economic empowerment as well as access to quality work.
  • Under-representation, lack of access to and control of decision-making processes in both SSE and the consultative processes between the public sector and SSE.
  • An environment that is not always favourable to women in entrepreneurial development in SSE.

(1) Source: UNICEF – 2007 / (2) Source: Report of the International Seminar on Social and Solidarity Economy with a Gender Perspective – Women of the World – 2012

What perspectives for working at intercontinental level?


In November 2013, during the RIPESS Globalisation of Solidarity meeting in Manila, a group of women drafted a document that they then presented in plenary session: the Declaration for gender perspective in social solidarity economy. It underlines the important need for the SSE movement to develop and integrate a gender perspective in its processes, as well as paying greater attention to underlying issues of equality between men and women. The women’s group that was responsible for the initiative of the Declaration reminded us that women are the majority of actors present in the SSE movements, but remain invisible at several levels, especially in terms of governance of SSE enterprises.

Spaces need to be created for women and men to hold discussion and to develop a gender perspective within the local, national and international SSE networks.

Two years down the road, although 2015 marked the 40th anniversary of the first international women’s Declaration and Action Programme in Beijing, a new intercontinental working group was born, led by RIPESS in order to support exchange, reflection and cooperation on gender perspectives and a feminist approach to SSE.

The objectives of including this work and action plan in the network are mainly to:

  • Raise awareness on the reality, challenges and progress of women in SSE
  • Highlight women’s innovation in SSE and the egalitarian practice that encourages socio-economic empowerment.
  • Promote SSE as a strategy to improve the socio-economic situation of women and young girls.
  • Promote the inclusion of this theme in the work of the continental, national and local organisations and networks, declarations, planning and research.

The Virtual Meetings of the Women&SSE Group

Program of our quarterly meetings 2017/2018 (expand)


Once the objectives were established, we created a virtual meeting space to implement our action plan and thus generate exchanges about our field experiences, tools, illusions and reflections. On the one hand, our quarterly virtual meetings (see the dates and themes in the image above) aim at gathering people and organizations from around the world and invite them to discuss and deepen certain topics. In parallel, and continuously, they can exchange through a private Google group or, more openly on the Facebook page dedicated to the theme Women&SSE: “Femmes Économie sociale et Solidaire” (we also publish in english and spanish).

These spaces are open to all !, with the objective to welcome people working on SSE with gender perspective from all over the world. Note that exchanges are held in the three RIPESS languages (French, English, Spanish) in order to facilitate communication.

You are welcome to share your experience and vision, and to contribute according to your possibilities by acting at local, continental and global levels. Join us by contacting us at or on our facebook page.


Lead Resources

See also resources in French and Spanish



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