The ILO holds meeting on care provision through cooperatives with global and country level updates

On Wednesday, August 23rd, The ILO’s Cooperative Unit (COOP) and the Gender, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (GEDI) Branch came together with 27 ILO colleagues from headquarters and the field to discuss progress on the initiative Cooperative Care Provision as a Gender-Transformative Decent Work Solution, initially launched in March 2023.

News | 01 September 2023
Laura Addati, Maternity Protection and Work Family Specialist in the Gender, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (GEDI) Branch chaired the meeting and provided welcome remarks to ILO colleagues from HQ and various country and regional offices, as well as departments. She reminded colleagues of the intervention model’s important contribution to the ILO’s transformative agenda for gender equality and the 2022 International Labour Conference resolution on the Social and Solidarity Economy, as well as its grounding in the Program and Budget for both 2022-2023 (Outcome 6) and 2024-2025 (Outcome 4 and 5).

Simel Esim, Head of the COOP Unit presented a summary of the different pathways for care provision through cooperatives that was developed as part of the ‘Global mapping of the provision of care through cooperatives’ (ILO, 2017). She highlighted the diversity that exists within care provision through cooperatives and underscored how this initiative is remaining open and flexible to adapt to needs that arise depending on the local contexts.

She noted that the care sector adaptations of Think.Coop and Start.COOP tools will serve as a pathway for both existing care workers seeking to work via a cooperative model and individuals/organizations, including local governments, beneficiary families, aspiring to participate in cooperative care provision. As unique needs out of the national assessments, the initiative remains flexible to developing supplementary tools, particularly for established cooperatives interested in adding care services, she added.

Mattie Milliken, consultant on the initiative, provided an update on the adaptations of Think.COOP and Start.COOP to the care sector. She discussed the activity-based methodology and the overall objectives. The timeline for each tool was presented mentioning that field colleagues will be invited to provide feedback after the pilot sessions.

Experience sharing 1: Colombia

Diana Carolina Pava, National Project Coordinator in Colombia, presented a general update on the initiative in Colombia, where the ILO has been requested by the Vice Presidency to lead two pilots for community care services in the country. This will further inform the development of a new national care system. Consultants conducted the initial assessments covering the context-specific regulatory framework as well as the different types of Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) organizations present, which highlighted important opportunities for engagement and indicated that the programme is well aligned with Colombia’s national priorities. The project team has since undertaken focus groups and interviews with 10 different care-oriented SSE entities providing critical services such as care for older persons, childcare, midwifery, community kitchens, and care for people with disabilities.

Some lessons learned include:
  • Selection of qualified consultants to conduct the assessments is key to the programme’s success. It is important for them to be experts in their field, with an understanding of the local context as well as wider gender and SSE issues.
  • Adaptability to respond to different concepts of care and decision making (as explored through the engagement of an Indigenous community in the Caribbean region of Colombia, who based decisions not only on human-care but also environmental and spiritual care).
  • Flexibility with the types of SSE entities engaged, not only limiting methodology and tools towards cooperatives but keeping a wider net to associations, social enterprises, etc.
  • Enhanced local resources (project staff, logistics, people in the field) for improved coordination and implementation support.
  • Support care givers with care responsibility during the activities. Considerations and plans for support should be included in the budget and planned in advance. This could also include activities for children who are present.
Experience sharing 2: Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT)

Mohanad Shalabi, National Project Officer in OPT, shared recent updates from the Promoting Productive Employment and Decent Work for Women in Egypt, Jordan and the occupied Palestinian territory project. The project team has conducted several consultation sessions with local social partners and identified key activities to promote childcare services in the OPT. This included: mapping childcare service providers, designing detailed action plans, promoting the establishment of childcare facilities, supporting the establishment of one child care cooperative, tailoring training programmes for child care cooperatives, and organizing a knowledge sharing visit for cooperative members. A consultancy firm has been hired to conduct the assessment as well as develop a feasible childcare cooperative model and eventually implement the model through training and development of a business plan.

The session concluded with an open floor for questions and answers. The GEDI and COOP teams will host a similar session in coming months with updates from additional pilot countries, Zimbabwe and Lebanon. In the meantime, HQ staff will continue to support field colleagues as needed in regard to developing the assessments, consultations and implementation.