Women's Collective(WC) was born in 1994, when six organizations, all lead by women, working on women empowerment in six districts of Tamil Nadu, felt the need to combine their efforts to achieve their common mission: "To build a society that ensures Equality, Social Justice, and Equal rights."
As the six units merged and begun their work under the operating model, “By empowering ourselves, we empower other women," they also unfurled their vision to build a state-wide movement for uniting marginalized and oppressed women. Their tireless efforts, facilitated under the guidance of Ms.Sheelu , resulted in the launch of Tamil Nadu Women’s Collective on 4th June 1994. With 100% women as its members and leaders, TNWC was a revolutionary idea then, during the period where men played the dominating role in almost all such initiatives in the state. By the end of 1994, another six units, all led by women, had joined with TNWC and strengthened TNWC’s efforts. By early 1995, TNWC embraced "Participatory Rural Appraisal" as its core operating model to empower rural women—the ideology that remains as a beacon of every action TNWC has been taking since 1995. TNWC expanded to 20 units in 1998 before it reached its peak of 35 units in 2010 with 100 thousand women members who are predominantly Dalit, widowed, marginalized, and single women.
TNWC is a grass-roots movement run by thousands of oppressed women, for themselves, by themselves. Such an initiative comes with its resource mobilization problems. TNWC faced its worst of fund shortage from 2010 to 2013. However, the strength of TNWC's purpose made Volunteers to stay with TNWC and work for three years without any incentive. In later 2013, two Donor organizations came forward to support TNWC’s efforts.
Today, with its resilience, TNWC emerged as a movement with 87 Volunteers, 100,000 women members striving for progress in more than 1000 under-developed villages from 19 districts of Tamil Nadu. To achieve its overarching goal of building a society that ensures “Equality, Social Justice, and Equal rights," TNWC is focusing on the following objectives:
Today, TNWC members are elected representatives of more than 400 Village Panchayats. Beyond the more than 120 awards won by TNWC's individual units, TN government recognized TNWC's work on rehabilitation and reconstruction of those Women who are affected by Tsunami. TNWC won the Fifth Food Sovereignty Prize in 2013, presented in New York by the US Food Sovereignty Alliance. The President of TNWC, Ms.Sheelu , was selected among the finalists of NDTV “Women of Worth,” under Environment-Eco revolutionist’s category.
Since 2001, Women’s Collective is registered as a Not-for-Profit Voluntary organization under Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act of 1975. In 2011, TNWC got its registration under Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) of Government of India. TNWC is also an NGO registered under 12A Section of Indian Income Tax Act, which provides Individual Donors Income Tax Exemptions under section 80G for any contributions made toward TNWC’s work.