Cooperative Women’s Stories

Oleoestepa is a cooperative project in which no one is useless. All the people who make up the extra virgin olive oil value chain at Oleoestepa are crucial to the success of everyone. The recent incorporation of women in this value chain has been a key factor in achieving Oleoestepa’s recognition as the leading producer of high quality extra virgin olive oil.

We are starting a series, Cooperative Women’s Stories, with which we want to make visible the relevant presence of women in Oleoestepa and value their key contribution to this cooperative project.

 

 

 

Lola Nogales

Oil Mill Master of the associeted cooperative Olivarera San Isidro in Gilena (Seville)

Lola Nogales, oil mill master of the associated cooperative Olivarera San Isidro in Gilena (Seville) is an example of the incorporation of women in strategic roles in the production process of extra virgin olive oil.

Despite the short time she has been working in this sector, she has found that technology is her great ally, so she is very clear that the future of the associated olive oil mills necessarily involves a continuous modernization of facilities and machinery.

She feels very grateful for the human team with which she works, and at no time has she been affected by the fact that she is a woman in a mostly male environment. “I always find a enthusiasm to collaborate among my colleagues, and the welcome I have received has been excellent”.

She considers that women are increasingly represented in the world of agriculture and are not only present in the administration or in the classified, but also in the “battlefield”, in the extractive process of extra virgin olive oil.

Lola wants to end this interview by encouraging everyone to “fall in love with extra virgin olive oil”, to delve into its culture, both children and adults. “Regardless of any factor, age, sex or race, all of us who live around this cooperative project must become more interested in the world of the olive grove and, of course, encourage our surroundings to discover it. I’m sure they will love it.

 

 

Sophie Girona

Farmer member of the associated cooperative San José de Lora de Estepa (Seville)

 

 

 

Sophie Girona is a farmer member of the associated cooperative San José de Lora de Estepa (Seville).

 

Seven years ago she decided to make a drastic change in her life, changing her cosmopolitan life in Paris for a quiet life in Lora de Estepa, a small village in the region of Estepa, with her partner who has ancestors in this municipality.  Here she became aware of the value of sustainable agriculture and the protection of the natural environment of the region. He currently manages and cares for an organic olive farm.

 

Since she took the reins of the olive farm she regularly attends the cooperative’s assemblies, and although there is still not a total balance, she says that “there has been a noticeable increase in the attendance of women at the assembly, the place where important decisions are made, and a greater participation”.

 

In her day-to-day life, she feels that there is a lack of training opportunities for women farmers, which would provide the necessary security to take the big step towards olive grove management. For her, not having specific training or resources for training and learning has been a handicap in her immersion in the rural environment.

 

As a “woman of action”, she prefers field work to administrative tasks. The technification of the machinery used in the field makes them lighter and more ergonomic, thus allowing their use by women, so she adds that “these lighter tools are essential to facilitate my daily tasks in the olive grove”.

 

In this process of immersion in the world of olive growing, the valuable contribution of the cooperative’s technicians stands out. Her ongoing advice on agricultural techniques suitable for organic farming has been key to bring it to fruition, noting that “without the support and information from the experts of the cooperative my organic olive grove project would not have been possible, so I will be eternally grateful”.

 

Before saying goodbye he wants to send a message of hope to young people, boys and girls, encouraging them to be part of this cooperative project, and urging them to be trained and participate in the various spaces where the production process of extra virgin olive oil takes place. “In short, without their participation, this cooperative project and by extension, this region dedicated mainly to the cultivation of olive trees, has no future,” Sophie concludes.

 

 

Inmaculada García

Farmer member of the associated cooperative San José de Lora de Estepa (Seville)

 

Inmaculada García Haro is an employee of the associated cooperative Olivarera San Isidro de Gilena (Seville).

 

For 20 years she has worked in the administration area of the cooperative, incorporating during her career the management of the warehouse, diesel and everything related to the purchase and sale of phytosanitary products.

 

She recognizes that the traditional role of women in the cooperative was limited to the task of sorting olives and cleaning the facilities, and that for this reason she had to pay the price for being a pioneer in new areas of work that until then had been purely masculine. “I was the first woman to work in the cooperative’s offices, and it wasn’t easy. All the workers and members were men, and they were astonished when they found a woman working in the administration of a cooperative.”

 

But fortunately she has also been able to see in these years that the situation has changed radically and that, “although there is still a long way to go, the presence of women in this cooperative is already significant”. She also highlights the increase in the number of female farmer members who are taking the step towards management “without depending on their husbands to manage the fields”.

 

Although the situation is improving, she calls for greater participation of women in the cooperatives’ representative and power bodies, pointing out that “the more women there are on the Governing Council of a cooperative, the better it will be”.

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