in: Andrea Bernardi / Salvatore Monni (eds.), The co-operative firm: keywords (only available online)
The role of co-operatives in reducing poverty and fostering human development has been increasingly acknowledged in the academic literature and by international institutions. The emphasis has been placed especially on co-operatives performing according to the principles and values identified by the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) in 1995. These ‘genuine’ co-operatives adopt participation as way of working. Notably, participation is a valuable process in itself, because as such it empowers people. Therefore co-operatives not only contribute to poverty reduction by enlarging members’ well-being outcomes; by promoting a participatory approach they empower people, particularly the most vulnerable, such as women living in patriarchal communities, youth and indigenous minorities.
In what follows we investigate the relation between empowerment and ‘genuine’ co-operatives, also providing some findings about how the process of participating in a co-operative can have a spill-over effect in other domains of members’ life, such as household decision-making.