International Day of Cooperatives

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The International Day of Cooperatives occurs every year on the first Saturday of July. The day was established by the International Cooperative Alliance in 1923 and the United Nations began supporting it in 2005. 

A cooperative is a gathering of people who join together to work towards a common goal. The people control the cooperative, and as a result, cooperatives tend to be highly effective and impactful forms of social organization. Every year, the International Day of Cooperatives’ theme changes to address a new way in which cooperatives help build a better world.

Palestine has a long history of cooperatives. Before the first official cooperatives appeared, people would come together to help each other in the fields. Neighbors pitched in with their labor and equipment to harvest crops. Sharing the labor made the work move quickly and efficiently and also built a sense of social cohesion. Olive-picking especially benefited from this approach as the quality of olive oil hinged on moving the picked olives quickly from the tree to the press.

In 1948, with Israel’s founding and a weakening Palestinian society, the importance of Palestinian cooperatives grew. They were a key source of structure and an effective way to get things done. Twenty years later, after the war in 1967, development and aid organizations like Anera recognized that cooperatives were effective entities with which to work in Palestine.

A tractor at a Gaza cooperative in 1980 provided by Anera.
A tractor at a Gaza cooperative in 1980 provided by Anera.

2024

This year, the theme is “Cooperatives Building a Better Future for All.” All over the world, cooperatives will be able to share with each other the way they work towards a sustainable future.

In Palestine this year, the work of cooperatives has been derailed by the war in Gaza. Anera’s staff has faced incredible difficulties attempting to deliver aid to people. Nonetheless, through networks of community support, our amazing staff on the ground has been able to continue their work. 

As one of the foremost providers of aid in Gaza currently, Anera’s emergency response would not be possible without the organization’s relationship to cooperatives. By foregrounding these people-led organizations in our work, Anera is prepared now and in the future to provide Gaza with the most effective and essential support.

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