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10th Women’s Forum

Organised by the ICA-AP Committee on Women

Date: 27-November 2018

Theme: Strengthening Resilience by Empowering Women in Co-operatives

Time: 09:00 to 17:00

Venue: Attar Hall, IRIB International Conference Center

The Women’ Forum is organized under the aegis of the ICA-AP Committee on Women. The Women’s Committee works to promote gender integration in co-operatives and encourages the participation of women at all levels in co-operatives, especially at the leadership and decision making levels. The theme for this year’s Forum is Strengthening Resilience by Empowering Women in Co-operatives.  The Forum will feature presentations and group discussions on the theme including sharing of experiences and best practices from some of the countries in the Asia Pacific region.


Agenda Items


9:00 – 10:00


10:00 – 10:15

10:15- 10:30

10:30- 11:00

Welcome Address

Role of Co-operatives in contributing to the welfare of women and children: Case study of Nepal

Keynote Address on “Strengthening Resilience by Empowering Women in


Mr. Balasubramanian Iyer, Regional Director, ICA-AP

Ms. Om Devi Malla, ICA Global Board Member

Dr. Susan Bastani, Representative from the Vice President of Women, Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran


Tea Break

11:15 – 12:30

Each speaker will present for 12 minutes. The Moderator will be given 12 minutes to summarise. This will be followed by 15 minutes for Q&A.

Panel Discussion on “Bolstering preparedness and safeguarding women’s interests”

Moderator- Ms. Savitri Singh, Program Director, ICA-AP

Ms. Laleh Daraie, National Coordinator, SGP, Global Environment Fund,

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) (tbc)

Ms. Diana Dovgan, Secretary General, CICOPA (tbc)

Dr. Chiyoge B. Sifa, Regional Director, ICA-Africa  

Dr. Arghavan Farzin Motamed, CEO Consultant (cooperatives and financial inclusion for women), Cooperative Development Bank of Iran

12:30 – 13:10

Each presenter will be given 10 minutes for their presentation.

Presentation - country examples

Dr. Mohd Azlan Yahya, ANGKASA, Malaysia

Ms. Tran Thu Hang, Vice Director, International Relations, Vietnam Cooperative Alliance (VCA)

Ms. Cao Wei, Senior Manager, ACFSMC, China

Ms. Meena Pokhrel, Senior Program Manager, NACCFL, Nepal

Representative from Rah-e-Roshd (tbc)

13:10 - 14:10


14:10 - 15:10

The groups will be given an hour to discuss.

Group Discussion- “Strengthening the pillars of co-operative resilience by uplifting women: enabling environment, ecosystem and leadership management”

Facilitators- Ms. Anahita Eslahpazir; CEO, Rah-e-Roshd Co-operative Educational Complex, Iran

Ms. Farzin, Barg-e-Noor Research and Training Cooperative, Iran

Ms. Anam Mittra, Secretary, IC-AP WC


Tea break

15:25- 16:25

Report of the Group Discussions

All three Facilitators

16:25 – 17:00

Report and Recommendations of the Forum

Closing Address

Ms. Anam Mittra; Secretary, IC-AP WC

Mr. Balasubramanian Iyer, Regional Director, ICA-AP


Mr.Balasubramanian (Balu) Iyer joined as Regional Director for Asia-Pacific in April,2014.Mr.Iyer has over 25 years’ experience managing international development operations and overseeing multiple country offices including experience building new offices from the ground up.Mr.iyer worked in India in co-operative development before moving abroad to work on Asian regional concerns for overseas agencies, and in particular in Afghanistan,Bangladesh,India,Korea,Mongolia ,Nepal , Pakistan, the Philippines and Sri Lanka. He has worked with Aga Khan Rural Support Program, ActionAid India, International Development Exchange, and the Asia Foundation.Mr. Iyer was born in India and the United States, receiving a degree in Civil Engineering from the National Institute of Technology at Durgapur, a Post Graduate Diploma in Rural Management from the Institute of Rural Management at Anand, India, and Masters in Public Policy From the Goldman School of Public Policy at U.C.Berkeley.

Ms.Om Devi Malla commenced working in the co-operative sector since 1997 and rose from the District Association leadership to becoming the first woman Vice-President of the National Co-operative Federation of Nepal (NCF). She is also currently serving on the Global Board of the ICA. She is the first woman from Nepal to obtain a Diploma in Co-operative Education from NCCE, India. She has received co-operative training from more than 10 countries. She is a dedicated activist for the inclusion of women in co-operatives. A member of Nepal’s legislative parliament, she has received several awards from various national and international organizations for her continuous contribution to the co-operative sector. She has also been awarded the “Suprabhal Jana Sewa Shree” a State level decoration by the Government of Nepal for the same. Ms. Malla completed her Master's Degree in Sociology from Tribhuvan University, Nepal.

Dr. Susan Bastani is currently a professor of Sociology in the Universities if Tehran and Alzahra. She is also the Deputy for strategic Studies in Women Affairs of the Presidential Office. She has authored a number of books and papers in the social sciences. She has a rice research and executive background and has attended many domestic and international conferences. Her subjects of interest include women and occupation, advances methodology (in women studies), urban sociology, gender sociology, sociological foundations, and ethnic and racial relationships. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Toronto, Canada. She completed her BA and MA in sociology from the University of Tehran, I.R.Iran.

Ms.Savitri Singh has more than 25 years’ experience working with national and international co-operative organizations in various capacities. Currently, she is the Program Director responsible for policy and development programs, at ICA-AP. She is instrumental initiating various gender mainstreaming programs, commissioning of and contributing in research, study and training manuals, projects on the need of sex-disaggregated data collection and analysis, Critical Study on Co-operative Legislations and Policy Reforms, Advanced Training Manuals for capacity building of women etc. she has represented ICA at various platforms globally and at side events at the commission on the status of Women  in United Nations and also contributed as an ICA Expert on Gender-responsive Enterprise Development with the FAO project in Nepal. Ms.Singh has a Masters Degree in Political Science and a Post Graduate Diploma in Personnel Management & Industrial Relations.

Dr.Chiyoge Buchekabiri Sifa is the Regional Director of ICA Africa. Her experience with co-operative movement dates back to the 1990s when she was working as a management trainee with the Central Co-operative for Savings and Credits (COCCEC_KIVU) in Bukavu, Zaire. More recently, she was engaged with the movement in developing strategies plan for co-operatives in Kenya, as deputy director in charge of co-operative capacity building and training with the Departments of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDT) in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Most recently, she was a director, Cooperatives Program at the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She holds Ph.D. in Strategic Management from the University of Nairobi and has taught for more than five years at various universities within  Africa where she was involved in both administrative and academic duties as a member of the Senate, chair of the MBA program and external examiner for MBA projects.

Ms.Tran Thu Hang has been working in the cooperative sector since 1994 and has participated in the different international project in the coordination with NGOs such as UNAIDS, SCC- Sweden, Agriterra - Netherland, ICA, JICA, KOICA, GIZ, DGRV-Germany etc. to support and develop the cooperative movement in Vietnam. She was a member of the Executive members of VCA in the term of 2011-2016 and promoted as Vice Director of International Cooperation Dept - VCA since 2008. Ms. Tran Thu holds a Bachelor of International Economics of the Foreign Trade University and English of the National University.

Dr. Mohd. Azlan Yahya is the Chairperson of the ICA-AP Committee on University/Campus Co-operatives and serves the Angkasa Malaysia as it Vice President, Finance & integrity. He graduates from the UUM College of Business and is an expert in the field of education, management accounting, and public sector accounting. He has received the prestigious Royal Education Award from the Universiti Utara Malaysia in 1994 and the Civil service Innovative Award MAMPU 2007. He holds a Ph.D. in Business Administration from Universiti, Utara Malaysia.

Ms. Wei Cao is the Program Officer at the All-China Federation for Supply and Marketing Cooperatives (ACFSMC). She has been working in the international department of ACFSMC for 2 years since her graduation from the college. She is responsible for the coordination of the economic trade affairs between China and other countries. She also accumulated experience in organizing workshops/seminars/training programs related to e-commerce, co-operative financial services, C2C cooperation between cooperatives in the Asia-Pacific region.


Ms. Meena Pokhrel is a Senior Program Manager, Nepal Agricultural Cooperative Central Federation Limited (NACCFL)  She has expertise in more than 20 years of successful and progressive project planning/management/implementations/monitoring and evaluation experience on cooperative, agriculture, energy, value chain and agro cooperative, organizational and system development, livelihoods improvement; gender and social inclusion. Ms. Pokhrel Hold  Master’s degree; Botany from Tribhuvan University, Nepal and another degree in Environmental Science and Technology form, IHE Delft The Netherland and Sustainable ecosystem management from, Brown University USA.


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