Kolkata, Aug 18: Eastern Region Convention on Women’s Studies Now: Crisis and Solidarity


Date: Friday, 18 August 2017 Time: 2:00 pm to 5:30 pm Venue: H L Roy Auditorium, Jadavpur University (Gate No 3)

The Women’s Studies (WS) schools, departments and centres came into being in the 1970s, after long campaigns and struggles by the women’s movement in India. One of the major objectives was to introduce a social debate on the women’s question in the academia – to analyse and confront the structural and ideological forces shaping gender disparity and inequality in the Indian society. Supported by the University Grants Commission from the 1980s, WS has gradually gained momentum and emerged as a discipline in its own right. On the one hand women’s subordination is far from being a thing of the past and on the other, WS had started generating, over the last two decades or so, a powerful proactive intervention and sensitisation in the processes of governance.

However, there have been radical changes in the education policies of the central government lately. The onslaught unleashed on higher education has seriously affected the WS schools and centres, including those who have just started growing. This attack is not surprising given that Women’s Studies provides a democratic space for critical thought and praxis to comprehend and question structural inequalities and fundamentalist ideologies prevalent at the heart of patriarchy.

A recent circular by the UGC, dated 9 June 2017, threatens to cut funding to all the 163 Women’s Studies centres and schools across the country. They now face the threat of a possible shut down after September 2017. The situation at the School of Women’s Studies at Jadavpur University (SWS-JU) is no different. The School was established in January 1988 under the visionary leadership of Professor Jasodhara Bagchi. Owing to its academic achievements and commitment, SWS-JU was one of the three centres in the country, and the only centre in eastern India, to have been granted the status of Advanced Centre in Women’s Studies by the UGC in 2012. As a consequence of the UGC circular, contractual teaching and non-teaching staff of the School, whose experience and commitment in various ways have taken SWS to this distinguished position, are feeling threatened by this situation. This is a gross discrimination against the service and commitment of these members of Women’s Studies. Other Women’s Studies centres in the eastern region too are facing severe challenges.

We, therefore, appeal to the academic community, women’s studies researchers, scholars, alumnae, activists, media persons and friends to please join us in this collective action to confront the challenges faced by Women’s Studies in the eastern region. We invite you to give your suggestions, share your experience and express solidarity against this attack on Women’s Studies. Please join us to express your opinion and solidarity against attempts to destroy academic spaces of thought and action. The resolutions adopted at the convention will be taken forth to the National Convention organized by the Indian Association of Women’s Studies on 23 August in Delhi.



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