President’s visit to South Africa
Dutch Honour for Dr. Jaya Arunachalam

Dr. Jaya Arunachalam was the President of Working Women's Forum (India), a social organisation initiated in 1978 to develop the total human resource potential of very poor women workers in the informal sector. She was awarded the 'Padma Shri' in 1987 by the President of India for her distinguished services among the poorest women in urban and rural areas for the Working Women's Forum. Dr.Jaya Arunachalam, a pioneer of the women's self help group movement in the country, died on 29 June 2019. A graduate in Economics and Geography, Dr.Jaya Arunachalam has a Diploma in Management from Washington, USA. She holds several positions to her credit including:


The Presidentship of the National Union of Working Women, a grass root trade union of poor working class women in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. The women unionised are vendors and hawkers, other service specialists, fisherwomen, landless women, lace makers, beedi rollers, silk weavers, agarbathi workers, embroidery workers, and several other types of working class women; and


The Presidentship of the Indian Co-operative Network for Women specially evolved by her as an informal banking system to suit the needs of poor women as a national delivery mechanism for country-wide operations. She has currently received 'Honorary Doctorate' from the University of Lueneburg (Germany) in the year 1999, for her exemplary work among the poorest women in India.

Dr.Jaya Arunachalam is a member of various committees constituted by the Union Ministry of Labour and Rehabilitation and Health and Family Welfare. She has been a member of the Steering group on Women' Development of the Eighth Five Year Plan, 1990-1995. In 2002 Dr.Jaya Arunachalam was awarded "Stree Shakthi Puraskar" for her unmatched and outstanding services to poor working women by the Government of Tamil Nadu. In January 2003 she was conferred the "International Activist Award 2003" by the Glietsman Foundation, California, U.S.A., focusing on her contributions towards poverty eradication for over 25 years. As a mark of her services to all communities she received the "Rashtriya Ekta Award" from the National Awareness Forum (India). She is the recipient of the Annual 2005 Award of Global Leadership for Economic Development by Vital Voices, Washington, U.S., currently, Member Global Organising Committee, Micro Credit Summit, Nova Scortia, Canada. She is also member of Global Advisory Council, Vital Voices, U.S.

PR Syndicate, Chennai honoured Dr. Jaya Arunachalam with the socio PR 2007 on 3 November 2007 for facilitating/ empowering poor women for nearly three decades.

The Economic Development Forum presented the 10th Excellence “Economic Development Leadership Award” to Dr. Jaya Arunachalam during the national seminar Emerging India Challenges and Opportunities on 27 November 2007 in New Delhi.

India International Friendship Society, New Delhi presented the Bharat Jyoti Award to Dr. Jaya Arunachalam for her remarkable achievement and a worthy example to inspire others on August 12, 2008 in New Delhi.

She has attended and presented papers at innumerable National and International Conferences and visited several countries in North America, Europe, Africa, Latin America, Australia and Asia including China. She was chosen as the Chairperson at the FAO Non-Governmental Conference held at Rome in 1975, and has been a delegate to many such International meets. She has visited China in 1985 as a member of the inter-ministerial delegation from Government of India to study the population programmes of China. Her latest accomplishment has been the selection of WWF's strategy as one of the best model for 'Pro-poor strategy' at the Expo 2000 and subsequent invitation to participate at the Global Dialogue Meet held in Hannover, Germany in July 2000. She was the first South Asian woman member to be elected to the Governing Council of the Society for International Development, Rome. She was also a member of the Inter-ministerial Conference on Women and Children to Philippines in the year 1994.

Dr.Jaya Arunachalam has been associated with various essential Community Development Institutions such as the Women's Consumer Society in Chennai City, two children Homes both in urban and rural areas.

Dr.Jaya Arunachalam has promoted several Forums and Development organisations for the socio-economic upliftment of women and has broad administrative experiences. She has led several delegations and marches demanding effective implementation of economic programmes for poor women workers in the unorganised sector through collective and social action. At present, she is building up an International grassroots network among women from developed as well as developing countries called the GROOTS (Grassroots Organisations Operating Together in Sisterhood) network.

She has been a member of the governing board of the National Credit Fund established by the Government of India and is also the Trustee in the Sardar Vallabhai Patel Samarak Trust, New Delhi. She has served as a member of National Committee organising the 50th Anniversary of India's independence. She is the member of the National Advisory Committee of SIDBI. She has been a member of the Working Group on Flow of Credit to SSI Sector of the Reserve Bank of India, 2004.

President’s Visit to South Africa

President attended Pan African Women's Leadership Summit South Africa Cape Town from January 14th, 2007 to January 19th, 2007 and participated in two panels - one on micro finance and another at the thanksgiving panel to US Ambassador in South Africa. It was attended by various foundations including Bill Gates Foundation and a host of Vital Voices staff and 250 leaders from Africa and Latin America.

Dutch Honour for Dr. Jaya Arunachalam

Dr. Jaya Arunachalam delivered the prestigious the 12th Mandeville Lecture on 21st November 2006 at the great auditorium in the University of Rotterdam Netherlands. It is an appreciation that the Foundation expresses for the remarkable social / societal merits demonstrated by individuals from all over the world.

Click here to view invitation.

Nandini Azad is a senior women leader in the cooperative movement at the International, Regional and National levels. Dr.Nandini Azad has the distinction in half a century to be worldwide the only Woman Co-operator to be elected to senior leadership of both the oldest and largest International Cooperative Unions/Alliances. Dr. Nandini Azad, president of Working Women's Forum (India)- Indian Cooperative Network for Women. She is currently elected Chairperson of the International Cooperative Alliance - Asia Pacific (ICA-AP) Women's Committee and First Woman Board member in 50 years elected, to the International Raiffeison Union board (IRU) (the oldest cooperative union in the world).An elected President of the Indian Cooperative Network for Women and Working Women's Forum (India) with a membership of over 6,00,000 poor women in the informal sector(H.Q, Chennai). 1.7 million Loans have been provided in 14 Indian locations.

Recently, Dr.Dietmar Rothermund, the foremost German Indologist in his new book, "My Encounters in India" writes about eminent Indians and lists Dr.Nandini Azad amongst the 130 eminent persons he met in India that includes Sri Jayaprakash Narayan ji, Former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Former Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh, Morarji Desai, Satyajit Ray and so forth.

Dr.Nandini Azad hold a Ph.D, Syracuse University / Maxwell School of Citizenship of public policy USA) on women's credit group in 'Creating bases of women power' in cooperatives. She has worked extensively at senior levels at and in the Indian Government (Planning Commission, Women, Youth, Finance Ministries), multi-lateral agencies (IFAD, ADB, UNDP, ILO, FAO etc.), on International, Regional, National assignments. In 2005 her pioneering report 'Outlays and Outcomes of 65 Ministries in Government of India' was commended during her stint as head of the Outcome Monitoring Division in the Planning Commission by the Prime Minister. She is currently a board member (2014 - 2020 November). Governing Board Member and Large & Small Loan Committees, Rashtriya Mahila Kosh (RMK), Ministry of Women and Child Development, Govt. of India - 2014 to 2020. Member, Governing Board, National Council for Cooperative Training (NCCT), Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers Welfare, Govt. of India.

She undertook and presented the pioneering study of 26-country gender disaggregated data in cooperatives in the Asia Pacific region presented at the Asia Pacific Cooperative Ministers' Conference in Hanoi (APCMC) (2018). Entitled 'Gender in more than Statistic'. She was the only Indian to attend and address the World Farmers Organization General Assembly on Gender Equality in Family Farming, May 2019 in Luxembourg.

As Chairperson of the Independent Commission for People's Rights Trust, she innovated the path-breaking new program of engaging young men and boys to form male youth forums for women's empowerment.

She has been invited regularly to the Niti Aayog, Govt. of India to present papers on women poverty, WWF Case, cooperatives several times in the last 4 years.

She was recently elected Vice-Chairperson of Asia's oldest cultural Sabha (network) (119 years old), the ParthaSarthy Swami Gana Sabha in Chennai. Also the Vice Chairperson of the 70 year old Triplicane Academy a thank talk of economic and social reform (the only women). She is also a Bharatanatyam dancer, student of temple art and architecture.