The Seoul Metropolitan Government announced the direction of its women’s policy in 2015. Understanding that women are at the center of local activities, accounting for about 78.7 percent of all participants, the city government decided to seek solutions in women’s policy through “village communities” and “social economy.”
Currently, women’s community activities are positively impacting local communities, yet these activities tend to be voluntary and provide no economic benefits. Therefore, the key points of the new policy direction are: the provision of support aiding women to transform their community activities into social economy initiatives in the form of cooperatives, social enterprises, and community enterprises, and continuous job creation.
As part of these efforts, local cooperatives and other social economic organizations will be entrusted with the operation of 100 newly created national and public daycare centers, accounting for 10 percent of the daycare centers to be created by 2018. In addition, community enterprises and social enterprises will be participating in providing free school meals for undernourished children, eventually transforming the program to provide home-cooked meals by 2018.
Furthermore, the Seoul Metropolitan Government will support the establishment of cooperatives involved in the provision of educational services for well-educated women dealing with career discontinuity and dramatically increase the number of cooperatives providing services for schools, such as school cafeterias, field trips, and school uniforms, through the establishment of a cooperative school improvement council.
Moreover, the Seoul Metropolitan Government will focus on supporting women’s health, elderly women, single-woman households, and women’s safety through “women’s communities,” where women with common interests and issues can share information and provide care for each other.
In terms of infrastructure, the tentatively-named “Women’s Sarangbang ” will be established in all community centers in Seoul by 2018, and regional hub facilities will also be opened. In cooperation with universities, these centers will provide Social Economic Enterprise MBA programs with the goal of creating a platform on which women can develop into economic leaders.
Model case of a single-woman household community
W-Greeda, a cooperative for single-woman households, operates Café Food Eoseuleong Station in Mapo-gu.
Eoseuleong Station aims to support women in achieving economic independence by producing and selling coffee and attempts to provide an alternative community space for single-women households. Along with W-Greeda, it is growing into a major neighborhood community for single-women households in Mapo-gu.
Model case of a cooperative for well-educated women dealing with career discontinuity
The Korea Original Women’s Research Cooperative (KOWORC) is a cooperative for women established by a well-educated woman who experienced a major career interruption. The cooperative allows women dealing with career discontinuity to create alternative jobs for women.
Since its inaugural meeting in 2013, KOWORC has been actively providing policy development and research services for corporations and public organizations.
By introducing a system that allows workers to decide the time they start and get off work (while maintaining their work hours) as well as a part-time system for enterprises, KOWORC prevents career discontinuity for women while providing jobs for women at the same time.
Model case of a women-centered cooperative
Happy Coop is a cooperative where women members of cooperatives become the principal agents and producers for consumer cooperatives.
Happy Coop is currently operating 14 consumer cooperatives for members and 26 markets.
One of the major characteristics of Happy Coop is that its cooperative members as well as activists, board directors, and executives are mostly women. Happy Coop regularly hosts feminist leadership forums, women producer and consumer meetings, and related forums that encourage women to lead and operate cooperatives. In addition, Happy Coop is revaluating women’s labor and spreading gender equality throughout rural communities through the “women producer name movement,” in which agricultural products are labeled with the names of the women who produced them.
Furthermore, since 2012, Happy Coop has been funding women’s cooperatives and organizations through the Cooperative Welfare Fund, helping cooperatives, such as the “Good Sense Workshop (Gamjoeun Gongbang),” create jobs for women.
Case of a community of parents growing into a cooperative
The Beautiful Seongbuk-dong People’s Cooperative (Seong-a-deul Cooperative) was a community of parents focusing on providing history education excursions for children that grew into a cooperative.
The cooperative provided history education-based excursion programs for children in Seongbuk-dong, which is known for its wealth of historical cultural assets. With the increase in demand for such community-based programs, a few key members invested and established a cooperative.
The cooperative’s major projects include fostering historical and cultural commentators and operating historical and cultural excursion programs. The Beautiful Seongbuk-dong People’s Cooperative has also become certified as a community enterprise in Seongbuk-gu.