On the 40th anniversary of the Indian Co-operative Network for Women (ICNW) and the Working Women’s Forum of India (WWF) grand functions were held in both Chennai and Kanchipuram on Tuesday. The events were attended by a large number of cooperators including a contingent from the Japanese Consumer Co-operatives Union (JCCU).
Besides, several cooperators of the southern states – a WWF stronghold – came to take part in the function, said Jaya Arunachalam, President of WWF.
To use Jaya’s words “Yesterday the function was attended by a large number of co-operators of the Working Women’s Forum (India)/Indian Cooperative Network for Women. Cooperative Leader of the Peace Movement in whole Asia i.e., The Japanese Consumer Cooperatives Union (JCCU) were here to learn and share our issues in South Asia. The events took place in Chennai and Kanchipuram. The event was widely covered by media including DD Chennai Kendra.”
Peace, development and poverty reduction in South Asia through co-ops was the focus of the anniversary celebrations. Chitose Arai, vice-president of the JCCU spoke about the working of Japanese consumer co-operatives and said they worked for the revitalization of communities.
“Co-operatives had proven to be an effective channel for promoting gender equality in diverse circumstances. On the 40th anniversary, we can see how co-operative is an instrument of change, ” the daily The Hindu quotes Nandini Azad, president, ICWN saying.
Sharing details about the event Jaya Arunachalam told Indian Cooperative that the women co-operative leaders included weavers, lace makers, fisher women, vegetable vendors and other micro entrepreneurs participated in the event.
“Our goal also has been to encourage more women to participate and be more involved in the International Co-operative Alliance and has been focused on women’s capacity building and related training activities,” Chitose Arai, vice-president of the JCCU said.
It may not be out of place to mention here that WWF is a grassroots trade union of working class women in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. The unionized women are vendors and hawkers, other service specialists, fisherwomen, landless women, lace makers, beedi rollers, silk Weavers, agarbathi workers, embroidery workers, and several other working women.
The woman credited for organizing this scale of network is Jaya Arunachalam-a frail octogenarian and a Padmashree awardee who is recognized internationally.
Dr Nandani Azad, her daughter and a fiery woman cooperator in her own right, heads Indian Co-operative Network for Women (ICNW) which organizes micro-finance for needy women, among other things. It bears recall that last time Dr Azad was in news when her candidature was rejected by NCUI for the post of Chairperson of ICA Gender Equality Committee in favour of Arti Bisaria-a cooperator from Bhopal.