National Focal Point Spain

Seminar Women, Participation and Leadership

Equality as a competitive advantage

 In Norway, 25% of positions of responsibility in cooperatives are occupied by women. In Spain, 3.5%. A project developed by the Spanish Women’s Institute and for Equal Opportunities and Agri-food Cooperatives in Spain has fostered best practices exchange between the two countries with excellent results.



Education and training, awareness and the retention of talent regardless gender or age are crucial for the future of agricultural cooperatives. This is one of the conclusions put on the table in the Seminar “Women, Participation and Leadership” held in September, within a project developed by the Women’s Institute and Agri-food cooperatives in Spain to foster real equality between women and men in rural areas. Because equal opportunities has proved to be a competitive advantage for these cooperatives.

During the project, raising awareness and training activities have been developed but, above all, an exchange of experiences with Norway. In September, representatives from Spanish cooperatives travelled to Norway to meet their counterparts. An “extremely positive” experience, according to the participants.

“Norway doesn’t have tools unknown in Spain, what they have are intangible values related to the Nordic model, such as a firm commitment with gender equality through quotas law, work-life balance measures and with education”, explained Carmen Martínez, Head of the Equal Opportunities department in Agri-food Cooperatives.

Gemma Matos, from the Women’s Institute, pointed out that “in Spain we are implementing measures that were previously implemented in Norway but there is still a lot to be done in both countries”.

From this trip to Norway, they brought some ideas that are planning to implement in the Spanish cooperatives participants in this project, such as to make equal opportunities a normal strategy, not something unusual; or to encourage the recruitment of women and young people so the rural area have a future; or to try to reach more agreements with public administrations. Whatever needed to change the reality that says that despite women are overwhelmingly in charge of the family farms, they lack a voice in cooperatives decision-making.

The Seminar “Women, Participation and Leadership” was closed by Jerónima Bonafé, president of the Women Association of Agri-food Cooperatives of Spain, and Begoña Suárez, deputy Director General for Entrepreneurship and Women Promotion, who stressed the commitment of the Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality to foster gender equality.

This project is a Complementary Action within the Gender Equality and Work-Life Balance programme operated by the Women’s Institute and for Equal Opportunities and co-financed by the EEA Grants.