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Jaya Arunachalam

Economic Opportunity Award, 2005

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Focus Areas

Economic Empowerment
Women Entrepreneurship

Jaya Arunachalam is the founder of the Working Women’s Forum in India and is a pioneer in building leadership skills among thousands of poor working women throughout India. Jaya does not see the WWF as an organization but as a social movement, providing a social platform to poor women workers.

Twenty-five years ago, Jaya, then an active Congress party worker, gave up party work to pursue the challenge of providing an alternate development model with human dignity as its main focus. The need then for an alternate development model that was pro-poor, pro-women and anti-caste was urgent as caste and feudal values inhibited the process of development.

Using micro-credit assistance as a tool for mobilization of poor women workers, the WWF has economically empowered over 700,000 women members spread over 3,000 villages and 1,600 slums, with multiple field offices.