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"Now, everything has changed. Not only for economical aims, but also social ones. The mentallity has totally changed. Now women have self-confidence"
Fatima Ihihi - Founder member of the Toudarte Cooperative
Year of Foundation: 2011
Number of Members: 100
Sector: Women’s agricultural cooperative
Key themes: Decent work, women’s empowerment, ethical value chains
- 1 No Poverty
- 5 Gender Equality
- 8 Decent work and economic growth
- 12 Responsible consumption and production
The Cooperative Toudarte, Toudarte in Amazigh meaning “life”, is a women’s cooperative set up in 2004 by a group of 15 women in Aksmou village, in Imsouane town.
Fatima Ihihi took the very first steps which led to the foundation of the cooperative. After completing her studies, Fatima came back to her village and launched a powerful project of women’s empowerment. Following the footsteps of her father, who found an association aimed at guaranteeing access to drinkable water and electricity after the drought of 1995, Fatima set up a women’s association to improve access to education for women and children. As soon as she started raising awareness among people about the importance of women’s education, she faced the reluctance of families as social norms were a major impediment to women’s empowerment. However, soon her efforts were rewarded: some women joined the association and they then founded a cooperative for the production of argan oil. At the beginning, the cooperative aimed to commercialise almonds, then women specialised in the extraction and production of argan oil. The success of the cooperative encouraged many women to participate. In 2007, the cooperative joined the “Economical Benefit Group Traganine”, a union of six cooperatives marketing argan oil and leveraging their negotiating power to obtain a fair price for products.
Today, Toudarte counts 100 members, exports high quality products globally and has found success in international markets. In addition, in order to be sustainable, the cooperative has diversified its production by starting new activities, such as poultry farming. The cooperative also provides members with key services, such as a kindergarten and shop located in the cooperative’s premises, easy access to zero-interest loans, and to healthcare.
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Key Learning Points
- Even in those areas characterised by social norms that hinder women’s empowerment, collective action when combined with the creation of exclusive women’s spaces can be the driver for massive social and cultural changes.
- Collective action leads to more than economic empowerment. Through active participation, women gain autonomy and improved self-esteem. The cooperative has also contributed to better working conditions and improved access to healthcare and education.
- Cooperatives are a key institution for inclusive and sustainable development of people and the environment. Cooperatives contribute to preserving natural resources while guaranteeing decent work for people.