Our President
Dr. Nandini Azad

Dr. 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 Raiffeisen 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, Satyajitray and so forth.

Dr. Nandini Azad holds 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 in Tamil Nadu. 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 on status of women 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. Ambassador at large for Gender in President Obama's administration reported to U.S Congress that "this was the best depiction on gender violence through street theatre by Men & Boys anywhere in the world".

She has been invited regularly to the Niti Aayog, Govt. of India Think Tank (former Planning Commission) to present papers on women, poverty, WWF Case-study cooperatives several times in the last 5 years since its existence.


• Received a "Lifetime Achievement Award". A documentary was created/screened on Dr. Azad as "the Social Activist of the year" by Global Mega TV network at the 12th edition of Women Achievers Award 2020 (Women's Day).

The Asia-Pacific International Award, Bangkok from the Global Achievers' Foundation was awarded to her for her work on "Women's empowerment and financial inclusion" by the Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand (in absentia) in May 2017.

• Dr. Azad received the International Avon Award, for the project 'Male Youth Forums for Gender Equity' (Youth Forums) (one amongst 15 countries from all over the world) for the youth project to mainstream gender based violence from the U.S Government, State Department, Washington D.C. (November 2010).

Dr. Azad, was awarded a Certificate for Outstanding Achievement "Jewel of India Award" by the "International Institute of Education and Management (IIEM)", New Delhi, on 25th July, 2016.

National Mahila Rattan Gold Medal Award, by the Indian Solidarity Council, New Delhi, Certificate for Outstanding Achievements, 25th July, 2016.

Rajiv Gandhi Mahila Shakti National Award for the Year - 2016 on 20 August, 2016 at Tirupati by the Chief Guest Dr. A. Chakrapani, the then Chairman, AP State Legislative Council for the Academy of Grassroots Studies and Research of India (AGRASRI). They organised the 75th Birth Anniversary Celebrations of Shri Rajiv Gandhi along with the 16th Rajiv Gandhi Memorial Lecture and Rajiv Gandhi National Awards conferment programme.

Jury member to select 100 women achievers by Ministry of Women and Child Development through a contest along with Facebook for the category 'Commerce, Industry, Entrepreneurship'. The selected achievers and Jury were hosted by the Hon'ble President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Member of the Selection Committee (for two years) (Ministry of Women & Child) set up to select women achievers for the Nari Shakti Puraskar Award that were awarded on International Women's Day (March 8, 2017) by the Hon'ble President of India at Rashtrapati Bhavan (for two years) (2017, 2018).

Twitter Message from the Minister of Women and Child Development, Madam Maneka Gandhi on her recognition as the 1st Indian and woman in 50 years to be elected to the International Raiffeisen Union.

Commendation letter of Hon'ble P.M. Dr. Manmohan Singh for her Planning Commission work (2005).

Commendation of HRD Minister for her work as Director General, NYKS (1993).

Commendation letters of the Ministers of Women and Child (Govt. of India (1992)), foreword to her book "Empowering Women Workers" (1995) on her contribution to women.

She is the Vice President of Asia's oldest Cultural Sabha (only women) i.e., the 120 years old Parthasarathy Gana Sabha, Chennai HQ.

Some Presentations/Papers (1981-2019)

• She was the inaugural speaker at the "Feminization of Family Farming; Gender Equality Innovations. The Case of the Indian Cooperative Network for Women World Farmers Organization" 2019 General Assembly Luxembourg, May 20, 2019.

• Invited and presented a paper on 'Women in Cooperatives - The Power to Act for a Sustainable Future' at New Delhi on November 2018. This paper evaluated the role of women's cooperatives and India's commitment to women re-affirmed by National/International covenants. The Gender Disaggregated Data - Status of Women, Bottle Neck Challenges, Study Recommendation was highlighted. The significance of women cooperatives banks, progressive levels of equality, forms of women's empowerment was enlightened in this paper. The successful experiment of women's cooperative i.e., Indian Cooperative Network for Women was focused.

We Effect (formerly the Swedish Co-operative Centre), Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam in April, 2017. Presentation of the Indian Gender and Equity Model.

• Presentations at FAO and IFAD in Rome on the Indian Co-operative Network for Women 'A Gender and Equity Model' and Youth Forums Against Based Violence in April, 2014.

UNESCAP - High Level policy Dialogue on Regional Cooperation and Inclusive Development in South and South-West Asia, 18-19th October 2012, New Delhi.

Global Micro Credit Summit, Spain in November 2011 - Chairperson at the Plenary Session on women. Paper presented "How Can Microfinance Contribute to Restoring dignity and Transforming Lives in Urban Slums - Learnings from WWF and ICPRD experience".

Asia-Pacific Regional Micro Credit Summit, 2008, Indonesia, Bali, July, 2008. Chairperson at the Plenary Session on women. Paper presented "Engendering Ownership of Financial Services: Learning from WWF and ICPRD experience".

• The "Gender Based Violence Intervention Product" in Microfinance" - paper presented at a special Associated Session at the Asia-Pacific Regional Micro Credit Summit 2008 in Indonesia, Bali in July 2008.

• Presented the results of "the Innovative Young Men Combating Gender Based Violence" at the International Foundation for Election Systems Washington D.C (June 2006).

• Presented "Status of Women in India", Current Trends at M.I.T, Boston (July 2006).

Her Research/Publications/Papers/Studies (1981-2020)

NITI Aayog, Government of India - Invited and presented a "Women in Cooperatives - The Power to Act for a Sustainable Future", 20th November 2018, New Delhi and a Gender Strategy Paper for Poverty Reduction, May 20th, 2015 to the National Taskforce on Poverty Reduction.

"Innovative Governance Mechanisms for Women's Safety and Security - Engaging Men and Boys Against Gender Based Violence" - A monograph on engaging men and boys against gender based violence, published and released on 26th July, 2016 at the IIC, New Delhi.

"Gender is more than a Statistic" - Status of Women in Co-operatives - A Research Study for the International Co-operative Alliance - Asia-Pacific (ICA-AP), February, 2017.

"Towards an Engendered Poverty Paradigm in SAARC" as the concluding chapter in U. Kalpagam, Jaya Arunachalam edited "Rural Women in South Asia" (Monograph) (Rawat Publications, New Delhi), published in (2007).

Outcomes - Outlays a Pioneering study of 65 Ministries in Government of India (unpublished, Program Outcome and Response Monitoring Division, Planning Commission 2005).

Gender Perspectives of State Interventions in India - Presented at the International level workshop on "Family and Gender: Changing patterns of family and gender values in Europe and India", 1 - 4th March, 2000, Neemrana Fort Palace, Rajasthan. Later published in the volume on Gender and Family in India and Germany, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, 2003.

• IFAD (published) working paper series "Household Food Security and Gender Series" Food Security, Poverty, and Women: Lessons From Rural Asia, February, 1998.

Gender and Equity, a new Paradigm (Published by the UNESCO journal as a special issue on poverty eradication, 1996).

Empowering Women Workers, a survey of 1200 micro-entrepreneurs in Chennai (17 occupations) (Published by UNICEF) on petty vendors / traders (1985).

'Sisters of Hope' a monograph on Cambodian Women Entrepreneurs and their struggles in 2 decades (unpublished, ILO).

Household food security and nutrition in MALDIVES (report submitted to IFAD Rome).

Engendered mobilization, the key to Household Food Security in South Asia for the International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD (regional study findings).

Women's struggle for bettered human settlements (submitted to UNCHS, Nairobi) (1999) (later published in an edited volume).

Rural women's organizations: improving living and working conditions (of landless women, fisher women and so forth) (for the ILO, Geneva) Published in the volume, Lessons from the field. Successful strategies in the Asia & Pacific. (1984, Geneva).

UNDP/ UNIFEM in India Data Base on Women in Development Overview of Anti-Poverty Programs in Government of India with Special Reference to Women (unpublished).

Indian and Foreign Review: Reaching out to Women Workers through Grassroots Delivery Systems. Vol. 21, No. 22, 15 September, 1984.

Dowry Among the Slum Women of Madras for the Indian Social Institute (New Delhi) Seminar on Dowry (1983).

Our Past President

Dr. Jaya ArunachalamDr. 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.

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 held several positions to her credit including:

Dr. Jaya Arunachalam has been 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 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 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 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.

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 a 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.