HISTORY OF AIWEFA
In keeping with the growing awareness amongst the masses of their rights and responsibilities as citizens, in the late twenties of the last century, an urge for awakening stirred the women of India in all parts of the country. They yearned to take their rightful place in society and participate in the struggle of independence that was being waged under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi and others at the time. But, lack of proper educational facilities and training prevented them from throwing off their shackles of ignorance and in discharging their duty to the nation properly.
At the second sitting of the AIWC in Delhi in 1928 the following resolution was passed: ‘That an All India Fund for the promotion of Women’s Education be established and a sub-committee be appointed to collect funds and submit a scheme for its administration to the Standing Committee’.
1929 – 1932: It was at this time that a movement for social and educational advancement of women originated in the country and a number of women leaders like the late Mrs. Sarojini Naidu, Mrs.Margaret Cousins, Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, Rani Laxmibai Rajwade, Mrs. Rustomji Faridoonji and others championed the cause of their unfortunate sisters and struggled hard through the forum of AIWC a premier women’s organization --to give a concrete expression to this urge for awakening of women to remodel women’s education and remove certain social disabilities which prevented their activities.
In 1930 the Pachmari Session of the AIWEFA declared that the education of women had thus far incorrectly been identical to that of men. Women’s needs and roles were multi-faceted, it was agreed, so they needed a special curriculum. At the time western science was considered of primary importance in Indian education, so it was decided to establish a central college for women with the purpose of bringing about educational reforms to foster a ‘scientific outlook ‘ in women, develop their inherent capacities and enable them to apply the ‘science of living’ to the individual, the home and the community. While gaining a better understanding of the permanent significance of the home, women were to be enabled to play a meaningful role in the life of the country. So it was ‘Domestic Science’, thus far unknown in India as an educational discipline, that became the recommended concept for the progressive education of women. The curriculum envisaged in 1930 by AIWEFA was to consist of everything for a woman’s all-round development and for her many and varied roles: the physical, biological and social sciences, humanities and arts, the domestic sciences: housewifery, needlework and tailoring, laundry and textiles, dietetics and cookery and child development. There were to be extra curricular activities and sports and community out-reach programmes
With Lady Dorothy Irwin as the Patroness, ‘AIWEFA will be a real benefactor to the women and girls of India and the dreams of its founders will come true.’ (Secretary’s Report, 1929.)
The objectives of the Association were to administer the funds to promote the education of women and girls in India, institution of propaganda for propagating such education in the country, the increase and supply of better trained teachers having particular regard to the inclusion of training of domestic subjects, encouragement and production of better text books and attractive and suitable literature in vernacular, the promotion of children of Kindergarten age and the promotion of courses of training in Home Craft Fine Arts, Domestic Science, Physical Culture and other suitable subjects.
From the above gradually evolved the shape of an All India institution, which ultimately led to the founding of Lady Irwin College for women on November 10 1932, with 11 students, at No 11 Barakhamba Road, New Delhi under the Directress-ship of Ms. Hannah Sen.
1932—1950: Till 1950 the AIWEFA managed college affairs on the academic and financial fronts. Many schemes for expansion could not see the light of day due to lack of funds. It had been aspiring to raise its educational level and get a charter from the Government of India to award its own degrees. The Government took up the entire responsibility of financing the degree course in Home Science and Bachelor of Education for the first three years after which the position was to be reviewed and similar financial help given if found necessary. The precondition was that the college should obtain affiliation with University of Delhi. On 15th August, 1950 the college became a constituent of the University of Delhi and a degree course in the college was inaugurated enabling the students to apply the science of living to the individual home and community.
1950 –1970: The college expanded in numbers of students and staff, degrees offered, activities and infrastructural development and at the AIWEFA Annual General Meeting of 1969, it was ‘resolved that a separate society in the name of the Lady Irwin College Society be constituted and registered as per University Rules and Regulations.
It was further resolved that the land, buildings and other assets of the Lady Irwin College so far vested in the All India Women’s Education fund Association be transferred to the Lady Irwin college Society”.
1970 –1995: Infrastructural development and academic expansion of the college continued at a rapid pace in the next two decades.
1995 –2005: AIWEFA rededicated itself to the goals of our founders as it recognised that while education continues to remain a core issue, and health, nutrition and economic independence are the other keys to empowering women, the vision had to be expended to include modern tools like information technology.
In its Platinum Jubilee year, with equal ease AIWEFA nominates/elects the Governing Body of the Lady Irwin College at its Annual General Meetings, reaches out to rural women, spearheads the movement on gender budgeting and represents the Indian woman at the United Nations and other international platforms.