Empowering women in dairy cooperatives in Bihar and Telangana, India: a gender and caste analysis
3International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Gender Research Team, Nairobi, Kenya.
*corresponding author, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dairy animals enable women to put food on the table and to earn money. India is a leading dairy economy with a vast number of milk producers organized into women-only and mixed-gender cooperatives. We use focus group discussions, interviews, and ethnography to analyze four dairy cooperatives in Bihar and Telangana and to investigate the effectiveness of these cooperatives in including women and in strengthening women’s control over dairy income. In three of the four cooperatives analyzed, gender and caste norms restrict women’s inclusion and limit their control over income. The fourth cooperative emerged from self-help groups and is part of a women-only dairy union. In this cooperative, we find women-only leadership, empowerment of women of all castes, and successful engagement of men as supporters. Our findings suggest that dairy cooperatives can be empowering for women when they emerge from women’s activism.Keywords: Gender Inequality, Caste Norms, Women’s Economic Empowerment, Governance, Income Generation.