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July 1,2017

“Let us draw on the strengths of cooperatives as we pool efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda and make sure that no one is left behind,” says ILO Director-General Guy Ryder in commemoration of International Day of Cooperatives.

This year’s theme to mark the Day is “Cooperatives ensure no one is left behind. “

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A statement by the International Labour Organisation to mark the Day, called for more inclusion of cooperatives in promoting decent work

Read full statement below

Today the ILO is pleased to join the international community in celebrating the International Day of Cooperatives. The theme is rooted in the guiding principle of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, driven by the commitment to leave no one behind. 

Cooperatives with their people-centred focus, and founded on solidarity and members’ ownership, are well-placed to be vehicles for bringing about more inclusive societies and economies. 

Work – decent work – is a fundamental mechanism for inclusion and social justice. Making decent work a reality for all is embedded in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): it means being particularly attentive to the situation of working women and men who are at risk of exclusion and poverty, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples, migrants and refugees. 

There is already much evidence of cooperatives in action to promote equity and inclusion. Producer and service cooperatives of indigenous peoples, for example, have enabled their members to secure livelihoods, create decent jobs and to access markets. At the same time, cooperatives have allowed members to preserve traditional knowledge and strengthen environmental sustainability, while advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment. 

Women and men with disabilities as well as migrants and refugees have also benefited from the capacity of cooperatives to facilitate their inclusion in the world of work and integration into society at large. 

Cooperative enterprises play a growing role in delivering people-centred quality care for the elderly, as well as day and home care for the disabled and the chronically ill. In the informal economy, cooperatives have helped workers to move to formal work arrangements and securing better conditions through increased bargaining power. Through cooperative organization, domestic workers, for example, have been successful across regions in improving their conditions. 

However, there is still a long way to go before cooperatives’ potential is fully tapped and in some areas remains largely unexplored. Cooperatives could, for example, play a powerful role in efforts to eliminate child labour, forced labour and discrimination at work. 

Addressing the multi-dimensional challenges of inclusion will require cooperation and partnership. In heeding the call of the International Co-operative Alliance  let us draw on the strengths of cooperatives as we pool efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda and make sure that no one is left behind. 


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