A study was carried out on 120 randomly selected Women Dairy Cooperative Society (WDCS) members in Jaipur district of Rajasthan to assess their economic empowerment through dairy cooperatives. Data were collected through structured interview schedule. The study revealed that there was no change in land holdings of the respondent households but considerable increase in their home appliances and vehicles after WDCS membership. About 30.83 per cent member households had converted their kutcha houses to semi pucca or pucca houses while 38.33 per cent member households had constructed pucca sheds for their animals after becoming the WDCS members. There was significant increase in employment but non-significant change in access to finance, ownership of assets and confidence in financial transactions of the members after WDCS membership. The study also revealed that the annual income from dairy farming, other occupations and total annual household income of the members increased significantly (P<0.01).
Women in India are major producers of food in terms of value, volume and number of hours worked (Dommati and Chittedi, 2011). Despite their dominance of the labour force, women in India still face extreme disadvantage as to pay, land rights, control over income and representation in politics (Ahluwalia, 1990). Women are restricted in their access and control over financial resources and are less involved in financial transactions and decision-making. Less than 45% of women in India have access to funds of their own and only 15% have a bank or savings account of their own (Kishore and Gupta, 2009). The condition of women in Rajasthan is not different from this. The total literacy rate of Rajasthan is 66.11% in which male hold the upper hand with 79.19% literacy and female around 52.12%. Rajasthan is among the states having worst sex ratio (928/1000 male) in the country (Anonymous, 2011). High rate of child marriages and female foeticide, lower wages, malnutrition, low level of skills and greater expose to the domestic violence and vulnerability to sexual crimes are some of the other dimensions of women’s low status in the state.
Women empowerment is one of the challenging tasks in the present scenario (Sreenivasaiah, 2015). Bringing women into the mainstream is one of the major challenges for every government (Singh, 2013). The Government of India has initiated plethora of women empowerment programmes with the objective of ensuring empowerment of women from all angles (Shivashankar and Waghamare, 2014). In this context, the cooperatives being the embodiment of values and the principles are the appropriate instrument for espousing the cause of women empowerment. They have provided the women workers the economic forum for their income generation and livelihood activities along with the social safety nets (Jabvala, 2013). The dairy cooperatives have also provided equality of opportunities to many women workers to leverage their potential to assume leadership role, to actively participate in the decision making process and governance. The dairy cooperatives are vital to overcome the impediments such as illiteracy, economic ignorance, social handicaps and have a potential for promoting socio-economic development of the women and their poverty alleviation (Irvine, 1997). Women Dairy Cooperative Societies (WDCS) are heralded as pioneers of a silent rural change in India (Sudha, 2015). The scenario is fast changing with the increasing recognition of the dynamic role played by women and the inherent advantages of women empowerment for smart economics and superior society (Bala and Chugh, 2015). At present, Rajasthan state has total 13,878 registered dairy cooperative societies in which 5,494 (39.59%) are WDCS under 21 milk unions (Anonymous, 2016). Yet women participation in dairy cooperatives is still relatively low and some argue because men are still seen as primarily in charge of income generation. Keeping these facts in view, the present study was undertaken with the objective to assess the contribution of dairy cooperatives in the economic empowerment of women.
Materials and Methods
An ex-post facto research design was used to conduct the present study in purposively selected Jaipur district of Rajasthan owing to prospective rate of dairying, good cooperative network, livestock wealth status and large numbers of dairy cooperatives. Four tehsils viz. Amber, Chaksu, Chomu and Phagi were selected randomly from Jaipur district and two villages were selected randomly from each tehsils. From each village, 15 women who were active members of WDCS for at least three years were selected randomly. Thus, total 120 respondents were selected for the study. Data were collected by personal interview techniques through structured interview schedule.The change in the economic empowerment status of the respondents was assessed by studying the variables such as employment generation, possession of assets, access to finance, ownership of assets, personal accounts in bank, confidence in financial transactions, income from dairying and total annual household income of the members before and after WDCS membership. Statistical tools like frequency, percentage and paired t-test (Snedecor and Cochran, 1994) were used to draw the inferences.
Result and Discussion
Table 1 indicates that mean time spent by the WDCSs members on various activities of dairy farming increased from 3.42 hours to 5.23 hours in a day after WDCS membership. The activities include cleaning of animal sheds, feeding of animals, milking of animals and taking animals for grazing etc. This positive and significant change (1.81 hours per day) indicated that WDCS membership provided additional employment to the members. The above finding is in line with that of Meera and Gowda (2013).
Table 1: Mean time spent by WDCS members on various activities of dairy farming
|Time Spent||Before WDCS Membership||After WDCS Membership||Difference|
|Hours per day||3.42||5.23||1.81**|
** Significant at (P< 0.01)
Possession of Assets
Asset possession by the member household directly reflects the economic status of the family. Assets are the properties of every description belonging to the member household. Hence, it was measured in terms of change in family land holdings, home appliances, types of houses, animal sheds and vehicles.
Family Land Holdings
Table 2 reveals that there was no change with respect to family land holdings of the respondent households before and after WDCS membership. The reason behind this could be the requirement of huge money at a single time for purchasing of land which was not possible for the WDCS members.
Table 2: Family land holding of WDCS members
|Land Holding||Before WDCS Membership||After WDCS Membership||Difference|
Table 3 shows that the respondent families had purchased many household items after WDCS membership. There was maximum increase in the number of households owning items like gas connection, television, refrigerator, cable connection, telephone/mobile, CD player and grinder .The increase in number of household articles might be due to the increased income of the WDCS members as well as increased family income from other occupations.
Table 3: Number of WDCS member households owning home appliances
|Home Appliances||Before WDCS Membership||After WDCS Membership||Difference|
Type of Houses
The type of houses owned is a good indicator to measure the economic status of the respondents. It was categorized as kutcha, semi-pucca and pucca based on the type of flooring, ceiling, side walls, door and windows. It is observed from Table 4 that 37 WDCS member households (30.83%) had converted their kutcha houses to semi pucca or pucca houses after WDCS membership. Thus, it cans be inferred from the data that there was a good improvement in the housing conditions of the WDCS members.
Table 4: Number of WDCS member households owning different type of houses
|Type of Houses||Before WDCS Membership||After WDCS Membership||Difference|
Table 5 indicates that 46 WDCS members (38.33%) had constructed pucca sheds for their animals after WDCS membership. However, majority of them were still keeping their animals in kutcha sheds.
Table 5: Number of WDCS member households owning different type of animal sheds
|Animal Shed||Before WDCS Membership||After WDCS Membership||Difference|
It is clear from Table 6 that there was a considerable increase in the total number of vehicles in WDCS households after membership. About 15 member households, who had no vehicles earlier, purchased vehicles after WDCS membership. Maximum increase was recorded in the number of households owning motor bike.
Table 6: Number of WDCS member households possessing vehicles
|Vehicles||Before WDCS Membership||After WDCS Membership||Difference|
It was observed from the results presented in Tables 2 to 6 that there was a considerable increase in the possession of assets of the member households after WDCS membership. The obvious reason for acquiring assets which include various home appliances, vehicles and other properties could be attributed to the increased income through sale of animals and milk as well as increased family income from other occupations like agriculture, agricultural labour, non-agricultural labour and trade & commerce.
Access to Finance
Table 7 indicates that only few respondents who had no access to finance for personal and family expenses earlier moved to partial and full access category after WDCS membership. There was positive but non-significant change in the access to finance status of respondents after WDCS membership. The above finding is in line with the findings of Meera and Gowda (2013).
Table 7: Change in access to finance, ownership of assets and confidence in financial transactions of WDCS members
|Category||Before WDCS Membership||After WDCS Membership||Difference of Mean Score|
|F||%||Mean Score||F||%||Mean Score|
|Access to Finance||1.83||1.88||0.05NS|
|Ownership of Assets||1.10||1.13||0.03NS|
|Confidence in Financial Transactions||1.34||1.37||0.03NS|
Ownership of Asset
It is clear from Table 7 that very few respondents who had no ownership of assets earlier moved to partial and full ownership category after WDCS membership. There was positive but non-significant change in the ownership of assets status of respondents after WDCS membership.
Confidence in Financial Transactions
Table 7 further reveals that very few members who were not confident in financial transaction earlier moved to partially confident and full confident category after WDCS membership. However, there was positive but non-significant change in the confidence level of WDCS members in financial transactions after WDCS membership. This finding is in corroboration with that of Meera and Gowda (2013).
Personal Accounts in Bank
Table 8 indicates the change in number of respondents having personal accounts in the bank after WDCS membership. It is clear from the table that there was a considerable increase in the number of members having personal accounts in bank. About 35.83 per cent members of WDCS opened personal accounts in bank after WDCS membership.
Table 8: Distribution of the WDCS members on the basis of their personal accounts
|Category||Before WDCS Membership||After WDCS Membership|
Annual Household Income
Table 9: Mean annual household income of the WDCS members
|Source||Mean Annual Income (in Rs.)||Difference (Rs.)|
|Before WDCS Membership||After WDCS Membership|
** Significant at (P < 0.01)
It is clear from the Table 9 that the mean difference in the annual household income from dairy farming, from other occupations and total annual household income of WDCS members between pre and post WDCS membership were found to be statistically significant. The above finding is in corroboration with the findings of Meera and Gowda (2013).
The Women Dairy Cooperative Societies are playing a vital role in empowering women by providing sustainable livelihood to millions of households in India. The study also revealed a leap of change in the economic empowerment of the members after WDCS membership. There was a significant change in the employment status, annual household income from dairy farming, from other occupations and total annual household income of the members. Also there was a remarkable increase in the asset holding of the members and the number of members having personal accounts in bank after WDCS membership but little change in their access to finance ownership of assets and confidence in financial transactions. Therefore, government should organize proper training programmes to enhance their financial skills and should make arrangements through different schemes for providing loans, subsidies, rewards etc. to improve their access to finance. It can be concluded from the study that WDCS as a tool for economic development, if managed and implemented properly, can undoubtedly play significant roles in empowering women and in transforming their economic status.