China, Hong Kong: Women Workers' Cooperative

We can control our own fate through united force and be creative.

— Women Workers' Cooperative

The Women Workers' Cooperative (WWC) was established in the 1990s when Hong Kong industries were moved north to mainland China. The WWC opens up a new space that is based on mutual support and cooperation: women workers have the opportunity to rediscover and reactivate themselves through cultural and economic involvement.

Early members of the WWC were all women workers who were forced to change profession after working in factories for many years. Women workers of other professions and homemakers joined in later. Not only has the WWC improved the living conditions of its members, it also enables them to live an "alternative life and relationship." They share responsibilities, learn and grow together. Members have equal access to the resources and revenue generated. Democratic decision-making is practiced. Within the WWC, significant emphasis is put on social and cultural participation. Over the past 11 years, the businesses the WWC undertook included Chinese typesetting and data entry, and a survey on low-income families. In recent years, to address the need of Shum Shui Po, a low-income district, the WWC operates a community recycling shop and engages in collecting and reselling second-hand goods. It also operates the UnionMart that sells daily food and necessities. They have been able to create full-time and part-time positions for themselves and other members. The WWC is not only a workplace; it is also a place where women workers learn to be self-governed and to make decisions. Their experience has proven that cooperatives work. This has inspired more and more people from other social sectors to work for the reconstruction of low-income communities in Hong Kong. Women workers have been active in various social actions and they rediscover and reactivate themselves in related cultural involvement. The WWC's social and cultural participation has broken down the barriers among various disadvantaged groups, paving the way for a future in which the vulnerable can be more unified and mutually supportive.