Cooperative Women’s Stories: Lourdes Blanco Páez

Lourdes Blanco Páez

Administration Manager of the Sor Ángela de la Cruz cooperative in Estepa (Seville).

After completing her university studies in labor relations and some work experience, she had the opportunity to work in this cooperative during the olive harvest campaign in November 2001, performing administrative functions. “And what was going to be a one-time support job became the beginning of my professional life and the link with the cooperative for the rest of my life,” Lourdes tells us.

During the more than 20 years she has been working at the cooperative, she has seen many changes, “everything has changed at a technological level, even the building is not what it used to be”, she tells us. All these changes have meant a very significant improvement in the management of the cooperative and member services. “When I started we didn’t use the Internet and now we even have a communication platform with the member; now everything is easier, faster and more effective, but it requires continuous training and constant renovation” confesses Lourdes.

Although her position is linked to the administration of the cooperative, her work is broader, “in the cooperative we have to be very versatile, so that we can lend a hand to any colleague in times of great task”.

When she started working in the cooperative, she was the first woman in an all-male space. Fortunately, over the years, the presence of women has grown significantly in all areas: technical advice, olive mill and administration.

However, from her point of view, the fact of being a woman has never been a handicap in her professional development in the management of the cooperative. “I always had the doors open to continue training or to take any course or activity to improve my work. And when I became a mother, I was also able to reconcile my professional and family life,” says Lourdes. Lourdes was less reluctant to deal with the members, especially the older members, but even so it was not very significant, since most of them she already knew from being neighbors of Estepa and from her previous job.

At present Lourdes considers that women are well represented in all areas of this cooperative, “even in the governing council we already have a female member, and we hope that this will be a stimulus for the incorporation of more women to the main governing body of the cooperative,” says Lourdes.

With a view to the new generations, Lourdes advises young people to get training, whether they want to run farms or work in production, “everything is becoming more and more computerized and mechanized, so they have to have a specialization, but fortunately with this cooperative project in the region there is a future”.

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