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Evolution of the IAWS

The formation of the IAWS can be traced back to the resurgence of the women’s movement in India in the mid-1970s and the publication of Towards Equality, the path-breaking report of the Committee on the Status of Women in India (CSWI) set up by the Government of India prior to the First UN World Conference of Women held in Mexico, in 1975. Several social scientists and academicians in India were associated with the CSWI process, many of whom chose to develop initiatives in the field of Women’s Studies. The SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai, set up a Research Unit on Women in 1974, and the Indian Council for Social Science Research (ICSSR) set up a Women’s Studies Unit in the mid- 1970s, to facilitate research focusing on women through Fellowships/ grants. The early 1980s saw the setting up of the Centre for Women’s Development Studies (CWDS) and the Institute for Social Studies Trust (ISST) in New Delhi. Several of the pioneers came together to organise the first National Conference on Women’s Studies in 1981, held at SNDT University, Mumbai. This historic conference identified women’s studies as a ‘critical perspective’ to be integrated into all disciplines and the need for universities to initiate activities focusing on women’s struggle for equality in independent India through research, teaching and other interactive platforms. To further these aims, the conference resolved to set up the Indian Association for Women’s Studies (IAWS) which was registered as a membership-based organisation in 1982. The SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai and CWDS, New Delhi are Founding institutions of the IAWS.

Inspired by the transformative goals of the women’s movement, women’s studies has emerged both as a separate discipline, taught at the level of Masters and research/ Doctoral  studies, as well as to critical trans-disciplinary perspectives to understand the gendered nature of hierarchies, discrimination, exclusion and marginality in historical and contemporary contexts. It has   contributed significantly to debates on conceptual frameworks and feminist theory to advance critical perspectives on patriarchy, the sexual division of labour, gender and the axis of power as also the intersection of these with caste, class, region, religion and ethnicity. It has emerged as a critical lens to understand the ideological and political underpinnings of the challenges faced by movements for equality, democracy and social change from secular democratic perspectives.

Founding  Members
The official founding members of the IAWS, most of whom were also on the first Executive Committee, included Dr. Madhuri Shah (then Chairperson, UGC), Dr. Hemlata Swarup (then VC, Kanpur University), Dr Jyoti Trivedi (then VC, SNDT Women’s University), Dr. Phulrenu Guha (Former Minister/  Chair, CSWI) , Prof. Lotika Sarkar (Dean, Law Faculty, Univ. of Delhi), Dr. Devaki Jain (Founder-Director, ISST, New Delhi), Prof. Neera Desai ( Director, Research Unit on Women, SNDT), Prof. Vina Mazumdar (Founder-Director, CWDS, New Delhi / Member Secretary, CSWI). Dr D Shankar Narayan (then Additional Secretary UGC)

More about us

IAWS has emerged as a premier professional association that aims to further women’s studies as an interdisciplinary academic field concerned with women, the politics of women’s studies and the women’s movement, feminism and gender. It undertakes independent and collaborative activities with Universities, Women’s Studies Centres and other institutions/ organisations to promote discussion on women in emerging fields including the fields of citizenship, legal rights and environment. 

The IAWS is governed by its Constitution. It has built up its own archives, which is housed at the SNDT, Mumbai while its financial secretariat is housed in the CWDS, New Delhi. Its activities are coordinated by an Executive Committee, elected every three years by its members and organises a National Conference every three years alongside regional workshops and other research based activities.

Our team 2021-24

Ishita Mukhopadhyay

[email protected]+91 9830045339

Vibuti Patel

Vice President
[email protected]+91 9321040048

Mini Sukumar

General Secretary
[email protected]+91 9495629694

Shadab Bano

Joint Secretary
[email protected]+91 9897848939

Wandana Sonalkar

Editor Newsletter
[email protected]+91 9819576733

Nirmala Putul

+91 6201758283

Nupur Jain

Member(student) and Co-Editor, Newsletter
[email protected]+91 9665833358

Meera Velayudhan

Ex-Officio Member and Southern Regional Co-ordinator
[email protected]+91 8157835099

Anagha Tambe

Ex-officio Member and Western Regional Co-ordinator
[email protected]+91 9539324466


Pedagogy Workshop by IAWS and ACWS, AMU 2023

Two-Day Workshop on Pedagogy for Women’s Studies, (For WSCs of North and North Eastern Region), 28 February- 01 March 2023

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IAWS Conference on Economic Empowerment

Conference on Economic Empowerment of Women in East India and the Role of Women’s Collectives, March 17-18, 2023

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Northern Regional Conference 2023, 5th and 6th of May

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Watch | 'Exception to Marital Rape Is Violence Against Women': SC Advocate Vrinda Grover

January 28, 2022

As the Delhi high court is hearing petitions seeking criminalisation of marital rape and challenging the exception 2 in Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code,The Wire discusses with Supreme Court advocate Vrinda Grover notions of consent, violence against women and the idea of ‘marriage strike’. Watch the full video here

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Noted feminist and Assam’s first woman doctoral graduate in English Aparna Dutta Mahanta dies at 75

January 28, 2022

Dibrugarh (Assam), Jan 27 (PTI) Noted feminist and Assam’s first woman doctoral graduate in English literature, Aparna Dutta Mahanta, has died at a state-run hospital here, doctors said on Thursday. She was 75, and is survived by her husband, noted scientist Dr Paramananda Mahanta, a son and a daughter. Mahanta did her masters in English Literature from Gauhati University as well as the University of Leeds under a British Council scholarship programme. She spent her professional life as a professor in the English Department of Dibrugarh University and was the founding director of the Women’s Study Centre in the varsity. Mahanta was one of the pioneers of modern feminist movement in Assam. She had authored many books and started Assamese magazine ‘Aideur Jonaki Baat’ on women’s issues. Read the original article here

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IAWS Tribute to Prof. Aparna Dutta-Mahanta (20-8-1946 to 26-1-2022)

January 28, 2022

IAWS Tribute to Prof. Aparna Dutta-Mahanta (20-8-1946 to 26-1-2022) In passing away of Prof. Aparna Dutta-Mahanta the women’s studies and women’s rights movement not only in the North-East region but all over India has felt an irreparable loss. Dr. Aparna Mahanto was a Retired Professor of the Department of English, Dibrugarh, a Founder Director of the Centre for Women’s Studies, Dibrugarh University, a life member of Indian Association for Women’s Studies and a veteran women's rights activist who kept in touch with women’s studies centres and women’s organisations all over India. She was a member of IAWS national executive Committee and Coordinator of North Eastern region during 200508. She was highly respected throughout India and represented the Northeast Region in the national gatherings. She was highly revered for her writings in Assamese and English on all contemporary challenges faced by people in general and women in particular, in the North Eastern states from the perspective of human rights and women’s rights. In her highly acclaimed book entitled, Nareebad- Part 1 and part 2, Prof. Aparna Mahanta charted the herstory of feminist movement in its various trajectories across histories and geographies. Her another celebrated book was Journey of Assamese Women (1836-1937) that contextualised Assamese women’s predicaments in the colonial political economy shaped by the British rulers. Throughout her academically active life of over 50 decades, Aparnadi had been an epitome of courage, supporter of feminist praxis and powerhouse of energy. She took part in the National Conferences of IAWS and women's rights movements took a pro-active interest in the deliberations, polemics and resolutions passed by the delegates, indulged in animated debates, led rallies and addressed public meetings at the end of the conference during the 1980s and 1990s. She was a member of Mahila Samakhya Project of Government of Assam. She was actively involved in the women’s movement in Assam till the end. At the seminar on 25-22020 on “Prevention and Abolition of the Practice of Witch Hunting” at Indira Miri Conference Hall of Dibrugarh University, she had urged the audience not to look at witch hunting as an isolated issue but within a larger web of women-related crimes as well as the property rights of women and she also pointed out how women in matrilineal societies too become victims of witch hunting. IAWS heartfelt condolences to the family members and friends of Prof. Aparna Dutta. Salute to this brave soul. Rest in power Prof. Aparna Dutta. In solidarity, Indian Association for Women’s Studies Download the original file here

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