All India Women's Conference
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. 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. The first meeting held in Poona saw 2,000 attendees who met at the Fergusson College Hall on Poona University. Most of the attendees were observers, but others were women that Cousins had brought together to help create the AIWC. Amrit Kaur was one of the founding members of AIWC. One of the first secretaries of AIWC was Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay.
Beginning in 1928, AIWC began to raise money to open the Lady Irwin College of Domestic Science. Also in 1928, the AIWC recognized that women's education couldn't be addressed properly without dealing with "harmful social customs." 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. Other issues that were tackled included giving women the right to divorce, to inherit and to vote.
AIWC was registered in 1930 under the Societies Registration Act, XXI of 1860. (No. 558 of 1930). AIWC created a journal, Roshni, in 1941 which was published in both English and Hindi. The organisation was involved in lobbying Parliament to pass new laws to protect women in India and also to help expand voting rights. A central office for AIWC was set up in 1946. Also in 1946, a "Skippo Committee" was set up to help provide villages with medical treatment. When India was fighting for independence, many more radical members left the organisation in order to become "nationalist agitators." The organisation also expelled members who were associated with Communist groups in 1948.
Activities and programmes
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. AIWC also operates microcredit schemes and energy development for rural women. AIWC has trained women in the use of solar driers for hygienically storing food. They also help women find employment, are involved in health issues and the prevention of human trafficking.
This is a list of the past presidents of AIWC:
- Maharani Chimnabai Gaekwad 1927
- Johan Begum of Bhopal 1928
- Dowager Rani of Mandi 1929
- Sarojini Naidu 1930
- Dr. Muthulakshmi Reddy 1931
- Sarla Ray 1932
- Lady Vidyagauri Nilkanth 1933
- Lady Abdul Quadir 1934
- Hilla Rustomji Faridoonji 1935
- Maharani Setu Parvathibai 1936
- Margaret E. Cousins 1937
- Amrit Kaur 1938
- Rani Lakshmibai Rajwade 1939
- Shareefa Hamid Ali 1940-41
- Rameshwari Nehru 1942
- Vijayalakshmi Pandit 1943
- Kamladevi Chattopadhyay 1944-45
- Hansa Mehta 1946
- Dhanwanti Rama Rau 1947
- Anasuyabai Kale 1948
- Urmila Mehta 1949-50
- Hanna Sen 1951-52
- Renuka Ray 1953-54
- Lakshmi N. Menon 1955-58
- Raksha Saran 1959-60
- Mithan Jamshed Lam 1961-62
- Masuma Begum 1963-64
- M.S.H.Jhabwala 1965-68
- B. Tarabai 1969-70
- Lakshmi Raguramaiah 1971-79
- Sarojini Varadappan 1981-85
- Ashoka Gupta 1986-90
- Shobhana Ranade 1991-95
- Kunti Paul 1996-98
- Kalavati Tripathi 1999-2001
- Aparna Basu 2002-2004
- Manorma Bawa 2005-2007
- Gomathi Nair 2008-2010
- Bina Jain 2011-2013
- Veena Kohli 2014-2016
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