Women Dairy Cooperatives: Empowering the Women of Punjab!
The dairy co-operatives were formed in India after 1912; the real beginning was made only after the Second World War. The dairy co-operatives are organized with a three-tier structure i.e. milk producers’ co-operatives society at the village level, the union of societies at the district level and the federation of the unions at the state level. The process of organizing societies at village level started in Punjab in 1978.
Women play an important role in the dairy farming as they are the primary caretaker of the cattle. Milkfed realized that Women participation in Dairy Cooperatives can help rural women in becoming self confident, self reliant and can run Dairy Cooperatives more efficiently. Women Dairy Project has been undertaken in six districts namely Hoshiarpur, Ropar, Patiala, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Amritsar under Support to Training & Employment Programme (STEP) at an out lay of Rs.8.37 crores with 90% grant from Govt. of India.
Under this project, 390 women Dairy Cooperative Societies have been organized having around 20000 women beneficiary members. It is fact that at the household level dairying is largely the domain of women especially in small and marginal household families.
STEP Scheme constitutes providing support services for organizing, nourishing the Cooperative Societies for sustainable functioning. The process is coupled with creating awareness campaigns for the member women concerning management of the societies, enhancement of milk production by providing Breeding, Feeding and Managerial services to the beneficiaries. The programme also addresses the gender mainstreaming, health orientation and exposure of the member women to the process of empowerment in economic, social, political and legal sectors.
The Federation has a plan to prepare similar Project for remaining five Districts i.e. Sangrur, Bathinda, Farikdot, Ferozepur and Gurdaspur and has approached Govt. of India for sanctioning of Project & release of funds. In these districts 400 new exclusive Women Dairy Cooperative Societies would be organized.