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Rekha A Sali President, Mumbai Branch, AIWC Rekha A Sali
President, Mumbai Branch, AIWC

 ALL INDIA WOMEN`S CONFERENCE,an organization ,which is rather an obsession now, was formed in 1927, grown and supported by illustrious ladies who have become part of Indian History-pre & post independence. It has since then been an organization of ladies with a passion and drive for social service. Dr. Annie Besant, Mrs. Margaret Cousins and others founded Women`s Indian Association in Chennai,(Madras) in the year 1917. Women from Mumbai, Pune and other cities also established similar women`s associations in their areas. At the end of the first world war when the Montague Chemsford Commission toured India, a fourteen member women`s delegation headed by the young and dynamic, Smt. Sarojini Naidu demanded self government, Women`s suffrage, educational and medical colleges for girls etc. But they were disappointed as their demands were rejected. However a negligible number of women were nominated on a few legislative councils.

The birth of the ALL INDIA WOMEN`S CONFERENCE took place in the year 1926. In a prize distribution function at Bethune College, Calcutta in 1926 Mrs. Margaret Cousins demanded that the women in India should have a full franchise but the then Director of Public Instructions, Bengal, Mr. Oaten taunted stating “how long are you going to tolerate a man made syllabus, a man made examination and controlling authority in which women have no influence as the orbiter of educational destiny which has resulted in a meager 2% of literacy amongst women?” This prompted Mrs. Cousins to take initiative for creating awareness amongst women. She invited all the women`s associations in the country to meet in a conference. The response was very encouraging. The women`s association of Madras( Chennai), Mumbai, Pune and other cities assembled in Pune city at Fergusson College in 1927 under the Presidentship of Maharani Chimanabai Gaekwad of Baroda which brought everyone on a common platform to launch a women`s movement on a firm footing to acquire adult franchise and equal rights for women.( in health, education, inheritance, marriage laws, social reforms etc.) The ALL INDIA WOMEN`S CONFERENCE thus took birth in 1926 and turned into a countrywide movement.

The following thoughtfully drafted aims and policies were adopted.

Aims & Objects :

  • To work for a society based on the principles of social justice, personal integrity and equal rights and opportunities for all.
  • To secure recognition of the inherent right of every human being to work and to the essentials of life, such as food, clothing, housing, education, social amenities and security, in the belief that these should not be determined by accident of birth or sex but by planned social distribution.
  • To support the claim of every citizen to the right to enjoy basic civil liberties.
  • To stand against all separatist tendencies and to promote greater national integration and unity.
  • To work actively for the general progress and welfare of women and children and to help women to utilize to the fullest the Fundamental Rights conferred on them by the Constitution of the Indian Union.
  • To cooperate with people and organizations of the world for the implementation of those principles which alone can assure permanent international amity and world peace.

 POLICY :

To attain these aim and objectives, the society pledges itself:-

  • To work on non-violent and non party political lines for the abolition of privileges accruing to individuals or to any section of the society on the basis of caste , creed, descent, wealth, sex, color, or race.
  • To strive to promote universal education, national health, family planning and social security with improved living and working conditions for women and children.
  • To promote mass education and dissemination of knowledge among women to develop rational and scientific secular attitudes in faith, morals and religious practices.
  • To exert itself for ushering in necessary law reforms and change of social attitudes to fight against crimes and offences against women, and cruel religious practices involving women.
  • To seek out work opportunities and gainful employment for women. 

To fulfill the above objectives and policy and to achieve equal rights for Indian women it was decided to enact some laws ; and a Hindu code bill was drafted jointly by the All India Women`s Conference and the National Council for Women in India. Though the bill was shelved at that time because of the second world war, it was accepted gradually in the Loksabha.

  • The child marriage Restraint Act 1929 popularly known as Sir Harvilas Sarda Act.
  • The special marriage act 1954.
  • The suppression of Immoral Traffic Act 1956.
  • The Hindu Marriage Act 1956
  • The Intestate succession Act 1956.
  • The prohibition of Dowry Act 1961.
  • The Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act 1965.
  • Anti child –labour Act 1983
  • The orphanage and widows Home Act.
  • Equal pay and Equal Work Act. 

The All India Women`s Conference has been responsible to start:

  • First Home Science College in India at Delhi in 1932, which is known as Lady Irwin College.
  • Rural Community Development Centre (SKIPPO Centres)
  • The first Family Planning Centre set up as early as 1937.
  • AIWC has also taken the initiative in building a cancer Hospital in Chennai.
  • Save the children`s fund in 1942, which later became the foundation for the Indian Council for child welfare.
  • `Bapnu Ghar` a home for women in social distress at New Delhi in 1965. 

ACHIVEMENTS and ALLIANCE :

  • AIWC has consultative status with United Nations
  • AIWC has affiliation with UNICEF, UNESCO International Alliance of Women, FAWA, Pan Pacific and South East Asia Women`s Association

 From the year 1927 to 1952 Mumbai City enjoyed the privilege of having the National Head Quarters of All India Women`s Conference , a period which is very crucial for any institution to establish a firm base. Thus Mumbai or to be exact the Mumbai Women`s Association is the mother of AIWC as well as the first born daughter of AIWC and we feel very proud of this double status which may sound contradictory initially, but is still true in its many proud achievements in following aims and objectives of AIWC leading to the empowerment of women.

Since 1952 the Head Office of AIWC has shifted to 6, Bhagwan Dass Road, Sarojini House, New Delhi, 110 001.

Since then the MUMBAI BRANCH, AIWC has flourished under the able and capable guidance of prominent social workers like Smt. Mitha Lam, Smt. Kapila Khandwala, Smt. Lilavati Banker, Smt. Gulistan Billimoria, Lady Rama Rao. Mumbai Branch, AIWC has presented to the city of Mumbai eminent councillors, MLAs`, Parliamentarians and leaders who worked not only at the national levels but also at international levels. To name a few , these early leaders were Smt. Malini Sukhtankar, Smt. Maniben Desai, Smt. Sulochana Modi, and Smt. Nirmala Samant Prabhavalkar who reached the position of Mayor of the city of Mumbai, ministers and legislators like the President of India, Smt. Pratibha Patil, Smt. Mrinal Gore, Smt. Jaishreeben Raijee, and international luminaries like Smt. Hansa Mehta, Smt. Kamaladevi Chattopadhya, and Dr. Avabai Wadia,

We are also proud of Mrs. Mehraben Jhabwala and Mrs. Urmila Mehta who rose to be Presidents of AIWC at the national level and many members graced the chair of office bearers at the national level viz. Smt. Pramoda Gosalia as Secretary General and Smt. Sarla Shah as Hon. Treasurer and Dr. Dhairyabala Vora as Vice President.

Mumbai Branch, AIWC had the good fortune to organize 3 National Annual Conferences in

  • 1944,when Smt. Vatsalatai Naik was the Reception Committee Chairman ;
  • 1967 -under the Presidentship of Smt.Vidya Killawala ; and recently
  • From 1st to 4th January 2010 under the Presidentship of Smt. SHEELA KAKDE where the Mayor of Mumbai , Smt. Shraddha Jadhav was the Chief Guest. We have organized Half yearly session of Standing committee meeting of AIWC in 1989 under the Presidentship of Dr. Bindu Pandit. The Golden Jubilee of the National body was also celebrated in 1976 in Mumbai.

    Mumbai Branch, AIWC consists of 24 Constituent branches spread all over Mumbai. It has a membership of 12,000 members. The branches are separately registered with the Charity Commissioner, they work independently with their own committee on the guidelines given by the Mumbai Branch. They report regularly to Mumbai branch and have representation on all the four projects of Mumbai branch. Branches pay nominal affiliation Capitation fees to the Mumbai branch, who in turn pays the affiliation fee to the Head Office.

Mumbai branch ,AIWC runs four main projects viz. :

  • Rural Community Development Centre at Talasari.( RCDC )
    Rural extension programs undertaken by All India Women`s Conference were taken up with a definite objective of sensitizing urban women towards this situation and to expand and extend the activities of women and child welfare to rural areas. The present program of Rural development undertaken by AIWC, Mumbai Branch, located at Talasari started some decades back. Mrs. Hilda Seliman a British resident had stayed in India and was deeply distressed by the plight of rural and tribal women and children. She was a writer and wrote children`s story books. She had written a story about the pranks played by the goat named SKIPPO. Out of the Royalty of this story book and other donations , she founded SKIPPO Fund. Out of the fund a mobile health van was custom made in London and offered to AIWC to start rural health project. Lady Ramarao and Dr. Avabai Wadia worked out on this Skippo project .The van used to go in the interiors of Umargao Taluka. Later on local resident of Talasari, Smt. Kashibai Mohite generously donated one acre of land where the present project is run. Slowly the land was developed with the help of Central Social welfare Board,and Social welfare dept. of Maharashtra. This Mumbai branch project under went various phases of development and the present Chairperson of the project Dr. Dhairyabala Vora has more plans of development.

  • Kesarbai Bhimani working women`s Hostel at Juhu, Mumbai.
    In Mumbai there is ample job opportunity for educated and self reliant women. Smt. Meharaben Jhabvala, Patron AIWC ,worked hard for the establishment of the hostel for middle class working women. It was her dream to provide safe and secure accommodation without any discrimination of caste creed or religion. Shri Manubhai Bhimani, the then trustee of the Lotus Trust made a generous offer to donate a lakh of rupees from the Lotus Trust and a piece of land for the hostel building on a lease of 999 years. Smt. Vatsala bai Naik performed `Bhoomi Pooja` on the plot of the land for the Hostel, on 18th February1970. The foundation stone of the single storey Hostel Building was laid on 8th May 1970 by Smt. Jhabwala. On 19th April 1987 the hostel building was named as `Savitri Sadan` to commemorate a donation of Rs. 50,000/- in memory of Smt. Savitriben Desai. In 1988 , Chairperson Smt. Uma Rajan resigned after 10 years of service and was succeeded by Smt. Smita Y. Desai. Slowly the need of the hostel increased and to fulfil the demand the building extension work was undertaken by Chairperson , Smt. Smita Desai . Large donations were collected under the guidance of Chairperson Fund raising committee, Smt. Susheela Munshi. The main Hall of the Hostel was named as `Meharaben Jhabvala Memorial Hall`, to commemorate her memory in establishing the Hostel.

  • Education Project at Dharavi, Mumbai.
    The Mumbai branch of All India Women`s Conference received Madam Luther`s report and a project proposal on `Adult Literacy` in 1985. Keeping in view the alarming condition of illiteracy amongst women in India, the Mumbai Branch of the AIWC, decided to take up Adult Education for women as one of their mainstream activities. A separate committee was thus formed by the Mumbai Branch. On 1st March, 1987, five Adult Education Centres were started by Mahila Sangh `D` ward,SWKC Mahila Manda. Khar Vile Parle and Jogeshwari constituent branches. Based on experience, it was felt that due to government policy and efforts of voluntary agencies, it would be more effective if one consolidated area was taken up and work done for complete eradication of illiteracy in that particular area. The Education Committee of Mumbai branch in co operation with the dept. of Preventive and Social Medicine at Sion Hospital, identified 30 centers for Dharavi.Thus the Education project started in Dharavi by Mumbai Branch.

  • Street Children Project `Shraddha` at Khar, Mumbai.
    SOS India established the Hermann Gmeiner Social centre for the street children with the aim to lessen the hardship and risk faced by street children in 1996, in two cities of Pune and Mumbai. The program was wholly supported by SOS India and was administered in collaboration with Balagram SOS children`s Village, Maharashtra. AIWC always alert and ready to put up efforts in child welfare had undertaken this project. The Mumbai Branch was inspired by Smt. Shobhana Ranade, Patron AIWC and Chairperson , SOS children`s village Maharashtra. `Shraddha` was inaugurated by Smt. Vijayalaxmi Pandit, Juvenile Magistrate on 2nd October,1996. It started functioning at Khar station, platform no.5 and afterwards at Madhu Park due to lack of adequate place. Later we got a room from Mumbai Municipal Education Department at Hasanabad Municpal School, Hasanabad Lane, Khar west, with the efforts of late Shri Prabhakar Vaidya. Now the centre is running well there.

Besides these major projects Mumbai branch runs many Awareness programmes and Legal aid and counseling centre. Various lectures and demonstrations are arranged to create awareness in the area of medical, legal, social fields..

The details of all the projects and branches can be viewed on next pages.

Our mission has become sustainable over several decades due to a helping hand offered by generous individuals & organizations.

A million thanks to all of them. Now that we are driven, we cannot rest only on these laurels alone. We are now driven to reach even greater heights in this very vast field of social work.

 Our Future Plans

We at Mumbai branch, AIWC dream of 100% literacy for women and children and a home away from home especially for the senior citizens.
ALL THESE DREAMS CAN BE FULFLLED only WITH YOUR KIND GENEROCITY.

New layer...
 

Message

President -Sheela Kakde

Heartiest congratulations to our president smt. sheela r. kakde for being elected as secretary general aiwc new delhi. smt. sheela kakde created history as for the first time, election for the post of sec. general was uncontested.

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From the President`s desk--- It is great pleasure for me to welcome and greet you all a Happy New Year! In my long journey of 25 years of Social Service , this is indeed a great moment for me to host this 82nd Annual conference of the All India Women`s Conference. It is really a gratifying thought, that at the beginning of my tenure as President of Mumbai Branch...

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Padmabhushan,Dr. Sarojini Varadappan.

I am extremely happy to hear that Mumbai branch of the All India Women`s Conference is publishing the `Eighty years of Mumbai Branch` on the occasion of the 82nd Annual Conference to be held at Mumbai from 1st to 4th January 2010...

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Dr. Dhairyabala Vora

I feel very proud and previledged to welcome all the guests and delegates to the 82nd Annual Conference of AIWC. It was in Mumbai, then known as Bombay that the seed of the organisation was sown and a small committee called the Social Reform and Education committee...

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Annual Report

  Report of the 82nd annual conference
     
 

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