All India Women's Conference

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The All India Women's Conference (AIWC) is a non-governmetal organisation (NGO) based in Delhi. It was founded in 1927 by Margaret Cousins in order to improve educational efforts for women and children and has expanded its scope to also tackle other women's rights issues. The organisation is one of the oldest women's groups in India and has branches throughout the country.


The All India Women's Conference (AIWC) was founded in 1927 in Poona in order to promote women and children's education and social welfare.[1][2][3] Margaret Cousins had called for the creation of an organisation as early as late 1925 by writing to other women's groups and to friends to come together to discuss education for women.[4] The first meeting held in Poona saw 2,000 attendees who met at the Fergusson College Hall on Poona University.[4] Most of the attendees were observers, but others were women that Cousins had brought together to help create the AIWC.[5] Amrit Kaur was one of the founding members of AIWC.[6] One of the first secretaries of AIWC was Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay.[7]

Beginning in 1928, AIWC began to raise money to open the Lady Irwin College of Domestic Science.[4] Also in 1928, the AIWC recognized that women's education couldn't be addressed properly without dealing with "harmful social customs."[8] Women of the AIWC set up a committee to "watch and report on the progress of the Child Marriage Bill," and to also lobby politicians relating to the practice of child marriage.[9] Other issues that were tackled included giving women the right to divorce, to inherit and to vote.[10]

AIWC was registered in 1930 under the Societies Registration Act, XXI of 1860. (No. 558 of 1930).[11] AIWC created a journal, Roshni, in 1941 which was published in both English and Hindi.[12][13] The organisation was involved in lobbying Parliament to pass new laws to protect women in India and also to help expand voting rights.[14][15] A central office for AIWC was set up in 1946.[12] Also in 1946, a "Skippo Committee" was set up to help provide villages with medical treatment.[16] When India was fighting for independence, many more radical members left the organisation in order to become "nationalist agitators."[4] The organisation also expelled members who were associated with Communist groups in 1948.[17]

Activities and programmes[edit]

One of the initial main objectives of the AIWC was education of women, and it remains a primary concern today. The organisation's literacy campaign was intensified in 1996 by initiating non-formal education programmes for school drop outs and literacy programmes for adult woman with craft training through its branches.[18][19] AIWC also operates microcredit schemes and energy development for rural women.[10] AIWC has trained women in the use of solar driers for hygienically storing food.[20] They also help women find employment, are involved in health issues and the prevention of human trafficking.[10]

Notable members[edit]

This is a list of the past presidents of AIWC:[21]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "All India Women's Conference". Women's International Network News. 23 (1). Winter 1997. p. 56. Retrieved 17 April 2018 – via EBSCOhost.
  2. ^ Nair, Usha. "AIWC at a Glance: The First Twenty-Five Years 1927-1952" (PDF). AIWC. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 April 2018. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  3. ^ "All-India Women's Conference". The Guardian. 5 February 1938. Retrieved 17 April 2018 – via
  4. ^ a b c d Kumar, Radha (1997). The History of Doing: An Illustrated Account of Movements for Women's Rights and Feminism in India 1800-1990. New Delhi: Zubaan. pp. 68–69. ISBN 9788185107769.
  5. ^ Forbes 1996, p. 79.
  6. ^ Pal, Sanchari (5 March 2018). "The Princess Who Built AIIMS: Remembering India's First Health Minister, Amrit Kaur". The Better India. Archived from the original on 17 April 2018. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  7. ^ Vaidehi (26 October 2017). "A voice for women". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  8. ^ Forbes 1996, p. 80.
  9. ^ Aerts, Mieke (2015). Gender and Activism: Women's Voices in Political Debate. Amsterdam: Uitgeverij Verloren. p. 40. ISBN 9789087045579.
  10. ^ a b c Lodhia, Sharmila. "All India Women's Conference | Description, History, & Work". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  11. ^ "History". AIWC : All India Women’s Conference. Archived from the original on 17 April 2018. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  12. ^ a b Forbes 1996, p. 82.
  13. ^ AIWC 1953, p. 12.
  14. ^ Bone, Pamela (9 February 1990). "Choosing Life Over Death". The Age. Retrieved 17 April 2018 – via
  15. ^ Maffett, M.L. (14 March 1940). "Modern Women". The Springville Herald. Retrieved 17 April 2018 – via
  16. ^ AIWC 1953, p. 16.
  17. ^ Omvedt, Gail (1975). "Rural Origins of Women's Liberation in India". Social Scientist. 4 (4/5): 45. doi:10.2307/3516120. JSTOR 3516120.
  18. ^ "Project Details". Asha for Education. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  19. ^ Choudhury, Nilanjana Ghosh (22 February 2005). "Hope Afloat for Special Tots - Making That Vital Difference". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 23 October 2012. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  20. ^ "Now, healthy and storable 'solar dried food'". The New Indian Express. 21 March 2018. Archived from the original on 17 April 2018. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  21. ^ "Past Presidents". AIWC: All India Women's Conference. Archived from the original on 19 March 2014. Retrieved 19 March 2014.


External links[edit]