In order to extend interest and knowledge into the complexities of women’s lives and see it from various perspectives including India’s socio-economic realities and governance, the University Grants Commission (UGC) issued guidelines for setting up of Centres for Women Studies in universities and colleges and has sought proposals.

“Women studies centres will have special focus on most marginalised and disadvantaged women in the society. These include the women from Schedule Caste and Tribes, women with disabilities, women living in unsafe environments, among others,” shared a senior UGC official.

“A women study centre must pursue a comprehensive, critical and balanced understanding of India’s socio-economic realities and governance. Its main components include women’s contribution to society and social processes and their perception of their own lives, the broader social reality and their struggles and aspirations,” the official added.

The Centres will focus on building new knowledge on women in national and global perspectives and developing curriculum in women’s studies to meet the various needs of Indian women to develop an inclusive society. It will also prove as a framework to build a conducive environment for women to take up leadership positions in diverse sectors, conduct evidence-based research on women and economic development. Further, it will suggest methods to promote diversity and inclusion of women in development of all sectors.

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“The centres will be monitored and evaluated periodically by the UGC. Every year, the head of the centre will present a report on the working of the centre to its advisory committee and then submit it to the UGC with minutes or comments of the members. The report will describe achievements and actions taken and will have both quantitative as well as qualitative information,” the official said.

The centres will be reviewed on the basis of teaching, research, extension activities, seminars, workshops, special lectures, field action projects and action research, documentation and archive on women, in partnership with other UGC centres and non-UGC centres, government schemes and NGOs.

“We have sought proposals for setting up of new centres while the existing centres will have to give concurrence in the prescribed format to comply with the new guidelines,” the official said.

“Women studies centres will have special focus on most marginalised and disadvantaged women in the society. These include women from Schedule Caste and Tribes, women with disabilities, women living in unsafe environments, among others.

Apart from this, UGC has been focusing on women-led development for quite some time now. In November last year, NCW instructed UGC to ask all universities and colleges to conduct a test on the legal rights of women to generate awareness and ensure that they are acquainted with pertinent laws.

There were also prizes involved in the process, including a top prize of Rs 2,000 to be given to each college. The questions were based on the Constitution of India, its Preamble, Fundamental Rights, NCW Act, 1990, Minimum Wages Act, 1948, Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, and several other acts related to harassment of women and minorities, the NCW said.

Academics play a major role in opening up mindsets to the breeding patriarchy in our society and culture. So it is progressive of executive organizational authorities to work towards including programs and initiatives that expose the misogyny and then build a more inclusive environment for women.

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