Main Article Content
Although Bangladesh has changed a lot due to economic development, most of the people of Bangladesh still live in villages. And, the rural economy of Bangladesh still depends on agriculture. Besides farming and agricultural activities, a large portion of the rural population is involved with dairy production. Our rural women are largely engaged in agriculture and with dairy farming, but often their contribution is unrecognized. On the other hand, due to the traditional rural society of Bangladesh being highly dominated by men, rural women are still lagging in earning income and getting economically empowered. Thus, many non-governmental organizations (NGOs), local, national and international level donor agencies are aiming to change the lives of these rural women in Bangladesh. One of the popular approaches practiced by different organizations to empower the rural poor women is through lending them cash money. However, there are some other non-profit organizations as well who provide other means, like assets and services (for example, dairy cooperatives) to empower women rather than providing cash money. This paper tries to explore whether the initiatives of a private dairy cooperative offer an organizational approach for promoting women empowerment in rural areas of Bangladesh. From the literature, four interconnected factors have been identified as the operational indicators or the dimensions of women’s empowerment to understand the impacts of a private dairy cooperative on its women beneficiaries. This research used multiple methods (in-depth interviews, focus group discussion, survey) to explore the contact points and interactions of different dimensions of women’s empowerment through studying a private dairy cooperative (Kazi Shahid Foundation). The research findings support that the private dairy cooperative could make a positive impact in enhancing the economic, physical and social assets of women, as well as developing their mobility and leadership qualities. The beneficiaries of the project showed highest participation in economic activities, followed by access to savings, purchasing and marketing activities and decision-making capacity, while achievements in other areas of empowerment were also decent. Importantly, the private dairy cooperative played the key role in empowering rural women in the study area. This research finding asserts that more planned projects and dynamic principles of staff and officials of a private dairy cooperative are needed for empowering rural women as well as to achieve sustainable development and eradicate the overall economic adversities in the rural areas of Bangladesh.