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Empowerment of women through Education – Newsletter of AIWC, no 2




“Educate a man and you educate only one individual. Educate a girl and you educate the whole family”.



AIWC, a premier NGO working incessantly for the education, emancipation and empowerment of women owes a lot to Bethune College, Calcutta, for its origin, from where the ball started rolling. The year was 1926, and the occasion prize giving ceremony. Mr E. F. Oaten, the Director of Public Instruction, Bengal, in his presidential speech said, “We must have the cooperation of women to help us remedy what is wrong in women’s education. I would urge that women, who alone can help us adequately, should tell us with one voice what they want and keep on telling us till they get it.” It inspired Margaret Cousins, then the secretary of WIA (Women’s Indian Association formed in 1917) to work for the cause of women’s education and for forming women’s organizations. She gave a call to set-up branches in major towns, which would have only women as its members.

Margaret Cousins Margaret Cousins succeeded in encouraging the enlightened women of Indian society to come together, and fight for the women’s rights in the society. These women toured different parts of the country, held conferences, organized campaigns to bring about awareness among women and arranged public meetings to find solutions to the gender-based discrimination and inequalities and provide a national perspective to women related issues. They also met Viceroy, Lord Chemsford and others to draw the attention of British authorities towards providing free and compulsory education for women. The female literacy rate at that time (according to Census of 1921) was woefully low – only 1.80%. They pleaded for opening vocational training schools, women’s medical colleges and maternity courses and advocated an equal number of schools for girls and boys and votes for women.

In 1927, at Poona Conference the foundation of AIWC was laid. The first AIWC meeting was preceded by twenty-one constituent conferences. It was a historic moment. That moment onwards, this premier organization never looked back. With time it has grown from strength to strength. It has seen women from different parts of the country uniting for a common goal:  their main thrust has been on women’s education.

AIWC solicited funds from Indian and foreign nationals/groups and started the All India Fund for Women’s Education in 1928 for the promotion of women’s education all over the country. President of AIWC was the President of AIWEFA.  Five members of AIWC are still its members.

On November 11, 1932, the Lady Irwin College of Home science, the only one of its kind, was established under the patronage of Lady Dorothy Irwin, wife of Lord Irwin, Viceroy of India. This college now is among the premier girls colleges in Delhi. The college was established under the patronage of Lady Dorothy Irwin, wife of Lord Irwin, Viceroy of India.

After 1947, Independent, India laid stress on the need to educate women in increasing numbers and to provide intelligent guidance to women to give a clearer vision of their own educational purpose, both as citizens and mothers.

Dr. Lakshmi Menon, former President of AIWC (1955 to 58) and its patron started an All India Committee for the Eradication of Illiteracy among Women (AICEIW). At present, Dr. Aparna Basu is its Chairperson. AICEIW is running centers all over the country with its headquarters being in the campus of AIWC. These centers are working for literacy as well as vocational training.

At present, AIWC is involved manifold activities. Its branches, spread allover India, have been constantly and relentlessly working for the cause of women’s empowerment through various educational and employment generating programs, especially among the disadvantaged sections of society.  Their focus is on:

  • Primary education for children,
  • Adolescent Training Program
  • Adult Education
  • Continuing education
  • Skill based employment generating education for women of rural as well as urban slums, (with a view to bringing about awareness among them and empowering them economically)
  • Computer Training Centres run by AIWC branches (that offer vocational courses for capacity building among women)
  • AIWC Community College offers Certificate/ Diplomas/Associate degree in the field of Ayurveda Panchkarma, textile block printing, computer technology, beauty culture and health care, cutting, tailoring and embroidery. It enables in the process underprivileged children to join the mainstream education.
  • Literacy and day care services to street children.

Despite all these efforts and achievements, a lot more needs to be done in the spheres of girl-child education, adult education, continuing education, specialized education and employment generating education etc.

AIWC has also created three Public Charitable trusts to help needy persons through its branches in the field of education, health and old-age care –

  • AIWC Public Charitable Trust for Education – Financial help is extended to poor, needy and deserving girls for pursuing studies at the college level.
  • AIWC Health Trust – Health programs   and camps are organized on a regular basis by AIWC branches spread over different parts of the country.    General physicians and specialists are invited to check-up and treat women and children for different ailments.
  • AIWC Old Age Trust – Funds are given to different branches to run day-care centers for old people.

Seminar on “Violence against women: whose concern”? – Recently there has been a spurt of incidences of violence against women allover India. In a vast country like India, characterized by a huge diversity in customs, traditions, and way of living, the problems encountered by women and also their solutions differ from place to place. Education and employment of women do not seem to be enough to protect many of them either from domestic violence or from violence at work-place.

In order to highlight these issues, on 7th of August a seminar – first of its kind – on the theme “Violence against women, whose concern?” was organized at India International Centre, New Delhi, under the sponsorship of National Commission for Women. In her introductory address, Ms. Bina Jain, the President of AIWC asked the   question “Whose concern is this? Is it not the concern of the government as well as of the whole society, including all its members – male or female?” …” Yes, it is the concern of each and every individual living in India. Both the government functionaries and people should come out of their protective shell, change their mind-set, work together to eliminate all kinds of discrimination, injustices and violence against women?”

As a follow-up action, AIWC showing tenacity of purpose, has scheduled a series of such seminars at Agartala, Allahabad. Trivendram, Ahemadabad, Jabalpur, Andhra Pradesh, and J&K: thus covering all the states of India. in the month of September 2012. This effort of AIWC would go a long way in sending the message across to people from different   states of India, thus paving the way in the process for getting a national perspective on this vital issue.

News from Headquarters

Half- yearly conference at Chandigarh – The half- yearly conference of AIWC was hosted by Chandigarh branch from 29th June to 1st of July. Members-in-charge/Representatives from different parts of India participated in the conference. They had interacted among one another and exchanged notes relating to problems encountered by them, their achievements and future plans.

Incentive to branches to speed up their voluntary work on literacy – With a view to motivate affiliated branches of AIWC and to expedite their work for spreading literacy and awareness among women, the  AIWC  introduced the scheme of extending financial aid  to its more than 500 branches spread allover India for organizing –

  • One day Awareness Programs
  • Long Duration Programs (from 5 days up-to three years)


  • On 21st June, 2012, the project of AIWC Energy Program, spearheaded by Lalita Balakrishnan since 1983 and supported Mrs Janaki Rajaram and Mrs Madhu Bajpai, was awarded the first Prize at the Riio+20 Summit at Brazil under the category of Sustainable Energy of “Women’s Rio+20-Good Practice Award.
  • Dr Yuthika Mishra, member Library and Member- in- Charge Research and Documentation has been nominated on the National Committee of India of the International Federation of Research on Women’s History (IFRWH), an international organization working for women’s research.
  • The work of automation/ computerization of data of MCM Library at AIWC is being done.

Forthcoming Events of AIWC

  • September 26th, 2012 – Annual Zonal meeting, South Zone A at Pondicherry,
  • October 13th and 14th 2012 – Annual Zonal meeting, Eastern Zone at Ranchi, and
  • November 5th and 6th 2012 – AIWC Artisan’s Crafts Bazaar, N.Delhi.


News from the Zones

Women’s Indian Association, Chennai – WIA has opened 56 crèches for children in the age group of 2 ½ to 5yrs.  It is also conducting Nurse Aid Training programs and literacy cum skill training programs. Besides, a Computer Education Training Centre is also being run by WIA.

SWEDA – The South West Delhi Women’s Association, (SWEDA) has conducted a seminar on “the problems of girl-child and its solution” on 19th June, 2012.

Other Branches of AIWC have also been running various programs on literacy, education and organizing skill-based training programs for women living in remote areas, rural areas and urban slums. Their approach is interactive. They encourage participants to think, ask questions and develop problem-solving ability in them.






May 7, 2013 Posted by | Women's issues | , | 8 Comments


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