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Enhancing Woman’s Involvement in Cooperatives

The importance of women to Indian dairying cannot be overstated. In much of the country it is women who care for, feed and milk the animals. Raising their participation is essential to the long-term strength of the dairy cooperative movement. While initially the focus could be on participation in dairy activity, as members, this should graduate into governance aspect, i.e. their participation on Management Committee and Union Boards

Specific activities focus on enhancing women's leadership skills, promoting thrift and credit groups as well as health, education and economic activities that contribute to women's empowerment.

In 1995, the Dairy Board initiated the Women Dairy Cooperative Leadership Programme (WDCLP) on a pilot basis in Valsad, Kolhapur, Wynad and Goa in Western India. The success of this programme has led to its replication in other Unions throughout the country.

  • All Women Dairy Cooperatives (WDCSs)

    In some states, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD), Government of India, provides financing for cooperative milk producers' unions which implement the "Support to Training and Employment Programme" (STEP). Under this programme, dairy cooperatives are formed with membership as well as the management entirely composed of women milk producers.

    NDDB recognises the importance of STEP as a way to encourage increased women's participation in their dairy cooperatives. Whether eligible for STEP funding, or otherwise, Milk Unions are encouraged to organise all Women Dairy Cooperatives. As on June 2001, there are 10,492 all Women Dairy Cooperatives.

  • Women Thrift Groups (WTGs)

    Taken up initially as a pilot activity by the NDDB, in some Milk Unions, organisation of thrift groups still continues to be an important component of the Women Dairy Cooperative Leadership Programme. Thrift groups mobilise member savings, making them available either directly, or as loans, both for maintaining milch animals during the lean season as well as for the purchase of livestock. Importantly, it provides a system for women to place their earnings from sale of milk to their cooperative, and enhance their activity level, while providing opportunity for social interaction.

    An additional benefit of thrift groups is the experience women gain in managing their own institutions, which prepares them to assume higher responsibilities in managing their DCS and the Union.

    • The achievements (as of March 2011) through the continuing earnest and conscientious efforts of NDDB and the dairy cooperatives towards women empowerment and upliftment of their socio-economic and cultural well being are summarised below: Rural women now work alongside men, adding to the family income.

    • More than 41 lakh women are now members of dairy cooperative societies

    • 2.5 lakh are elected leaders in their village dairy cooperatives.

    • 265 have been elected to the Boards of the Milk Unions.

    • 2 Milk Unions namely Ichhamati Cooperative Milk Union, in West Bengal and Mulukanoor Women’s Mutually Aided Milk Producers Cooperative Union, in Andhra Pradesh have evolved as all women cooperative dairies completely managing and governing the dairy enterprise.

  • Women's Dairy Cooperative Leadership Programme (WDCLP)

    The Women's Dairy Cooperative Leadership Programme (WDCLP) was launched in 1995 as a pilot programme with the objective of strengthening the dairy cooperative movement by significantly increasing women's participation as active members and as leaders in the governance of cooperative societies, unions and federations. NDDB provided assistance to Milk Unions in conducting several activities to achieve WDCLP objectives. Some of the Milk Unions are taking this concept forward.

    As part of the WDCLP programme Milk Unions identified women staff to participate in training designed to develop their latent potential. At the village level, the key strategy was to train and position a local woman as a resource person to encourage and support women's involvement in their dairy cooperative.
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