Mohini Giri: How A Personal Grief Sparked Her Women's Rights Activism

Mohini Giri, renowned women's rights activist and Padma Bhushan awardee died after a brief illness on Wednesday. She was known for her outstanding contributions as the pioneer behind many women-centric initiatives.

Tanya Savkoor
New Update
mohini giri

Image: Wikimedia

V. Mohini Giri, a renowned women's rights activist passed away following a brief illness on Tuesday, her aide announced. She was 85 years old and is survived by her son and daughter. The Padma Bhushan laureate dedicated her life to advocating for women's rights, gender equality, and social justice. Her journey towards activism began amidst personal tragedy. The sudden demise of her husband, Air Marshal Madhav Giri, led her to experience the plight of widows in India firsthand. She was the daughter-in-law of the former President of India, Varahagiri Venkata Giri.


Mohini Giri co-founded the Guild of Service, an organization committed to supporting disadvantaged women, especially widows and their children, by providing education, healthcare, and empowerment initiatives. "It was her pioneering efforts that brought international and national focus on the unique vulnerabilities that widows face. Her demise is a great loss for women's movements as she was a pillar of strength and a great motivator who touched the lives of thousands of women," said the Guild President and trustee, Meera Khanna.

Mohini Giri: A Life Dedicated To Activism 

Mohini Giri was born in Lucknow on January 15, 1938, to VS Ram. She completed her graduation from Lucknow University and then pursued a post-graduation in Ancient Indian history from the University of Delhi, followed by a doctorate from G.B. Pant University.

Giri's inclination toward activism began with her career as an academic at Lucknow University, where she established the Women's Studies department. After her husband's passing, she founded the War Widows Association in 1972 after the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. In 2000, Giri became the Founder and Trustee of the Women's Initiative for Peace in South Asia.

Giri was also a board member of The Hunger Project, a New York-based international charity. She served as the Chairperson of the National Commission for Women in India from 1995 to 1998, where she played a pivotal role in addressing issues related to gender-based violence and discrimination, and advocated for policy changes to safeguard women's rights.

Her impact extends beyond India's borders, with her involvement in international forums to promote global awareness of women's issues and advocacy for their rights at platforms such as the United Nations. Her accolades and recognition are numerous, including the highest civilian awards like the Padma Bhushan, which she received in 2007 for her outstanding contributions to society.


Mohini Giri's unwavering dedication, resilience, and commitment to social causes made her an inspirational figure in the realm of social activism. Her lifelong mission to empower marginalized communities, especially women, will be remembered as a beacon of hope and inspiration for generations to come.

Tributes for Mohini Giri

Women's Rights Activist National Commission for Women Padma Bhushan Mohini Giri