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Enhancing participation of women dairy farmers in governance and management of dairy cooperatives

Empowering Women in dairy cooperatives - Future Women managers

Alignment with SDGs


Dilip Rath National Dairy Development Board • India


Women account for around two-thirds of total time spent on dairying by all the household members. While women spend more time on activities that can be done at home, men spend more time on activities that are performed outside home. The contribution of women members to dairying in the country does not receive due recognition. Such imbalanced labour participation and management of resources/returns hampers growth/progress of dairying at household level because of differences in priorities.

Women, if they start controlling the resources beyond providing labour, can certainly ensure enhanced reinvestment in dairying and also ensure better standard of living for the family. 

Enhance participation of women

Dairy cooperatives being farmer owned organisations must initiate enhancing participation of women in various domains of governance, management and active ownership for greater sustainably. In India about 17 million farmers are involved in cooperative dairying, of which 30% are women. This representation appears to be skewed in comparison to their contribution.

The National Dairy Development Board’s (NDDB) envisions to enhance participation of women in dairy cooperatives to 50%. NDDB also envisages to ensure every new member of cooperative to be a women and new village dairy cooperative society (DCS) formed to be a women’s DCS. It is also envisaged to enhance participation of women in Governance and Management of dairy cooperatives through systematic legal and democratic reforms, training and capacity building of women dairy farmers.

Bringing women to the forefront 

Bringing women to the forefront of co-operative governance was considered important and different measures were taken to achieve the same. The Government of India has mandated two female members on the governing board of cooperatives through a constitutional amendment and many dairy cooperatives have amended their bylaws to increase numbers of female members and their participation on boards. On the policy and scheme support, The Goverment of India’s schemes now mandate at least 30% of the new members added must be women, while NDDB is targeting more than 50% female participation in these schemes. This is helping women in becoming a part of the mainstream dairy economic activity and also to play an active role in dairy institutional structures.

To further achieve this goal initiative, dairy co-operatives have received support to appoint an ‘extension officer’ dedicated to increasing the number of female members and their participation in Governance. Workshops, exposure visits and cross learning workshops are undertaken for women to raise awareness and capacity building of women.


Another significant initiative taken by NDDB is to help in establishing and governing all women dairy cooperatives in different parts of the country (Shreeja Milk producer company, Icchamati Cooperative Milk Union, Mulukanoor Women’s Mutually Aided Milk Producers Cooperative Union). These institutions are helping women in not only economically empowerment but also in gaining social recognition. 

This will lead to faster socio-economic development of rural people as has been observed that women are more prudent in utilising scarce resources for betterment of their families.

Women’s participation will help in sustainable growth of dairying in India and secure livelihood for millions of families.

History of success

The beneficiaries of the initiative are the women dairy farmers in the country. The enhanced participation of women will not only improve their wellbeing but also that of their families. Women’s participation will help in sustainable growth of dairying in India and secure Livelihoods for millions of families.

  • Until March 2018, all women dairy cooperatives number 33242 with a membership of 5 million. 
  • National Dairy Plan – A central sector scheme supported by World Bank has enrolled 670,000 women members against the targeted 500,000.
  • About 110 female extension officers have been appointed across the country to enhance and promote female participation 
  • 5863: Number of female local resource persons in the country assisting dairy farmers 
  • 300: Number of women dairy farmers have been elected to various positions of Governance in the cooperatives 
  • 23: Number of women bearing the responsibility of Chairperson of State Milk Federations and Dairy Cooperatives

Our next steps

In India, there is a plan to take up target-based extension/training/capacity building programs for enhancing the participation of women. The incentivising of women farmers and women’s collectives is key to encouraging greater participation. The next step is the enforcement of legislation, policies and mandates under the scheme to ensure induction and sustained participation of women in dairying.

Further information

 is available on the NDDB website and EPM clippings.