Panel Discussion on “Status and Future Prospects of the Women’s Studies Centres in North East India”

The Centre for Women’s Studies, Dibrugarh University, in collaboration with the Indian Association for Women’s Studies, North Eastern Region organised a Panel Discussion on “Status and Future Prospects of the Women’s Studies Centres in North East India” on the 28th of July, 2020 at 2:30 p.m. through the online platform of Google Meet. The panelists of the discussion comprised of Directors/ Heads of the Women’s Studies Centres and Departments of North East India as well as other parts of the country, and members from various civil society organisations which have been part of women’s movements- Prof. N. Manimekalai, Joint Secretary of Indian Association for Women’s Studies (IAWS), Prof. Shaila Desouza, Head of the Department of Women’s Studies, Goa University,  Prof. Archana Sharma, Former Director, Women’s Studies Research Centre, Gauhati University, Prof. Madhurima Goswami, Director, Chandraprabha Saikiani Centre for Women Studies, Tezpur University, Dr. Paramita Saha, Director, Women’s Studies Centre, Tripura University, Prof. N. Pramodini Devi, Director, WSC, Manipur University, Dr. Monisha Behal, CEO, North East Network, Jarjum Ete, Advisor, Arunachal Pradesh Women’s Welfare Society (CEC) and Dr. Iyatta M. Uprety, Sikkim Government College. The President, Joint Secretary, and other esteemed members of IAWS, Registrar of Dibrugarh University, veterans of Women’s Studies and women’s movement, Directors and Heads, faculty members, research scholars and students of different Women Studies Centres (WSCs) and Departments across the country, and members from various non-governmental organizations attended the panel discussion. A total number of 575 participants registered for the panel discussion and participated through Google Meet and YouTube live. The main objective was to discuss the ongoing concern of the WSCs and the uncertainty beyond the scheme of “Development of Women’s Studies in Indian Universities and Colleges” which would be valid till September 2020.

The programme commenced with the welcome address by Dr. Nasmeem Akhtar, Chairperson of the Centre for Women’s Studies, Dibrugarh University, followed by address by Prof. Ishita Mukhopadhyay, Treasurer, North Eastern Regional Coordinator, IAWS. Dr. H.C. Mahanta, Registrar of Dibrugarh University inaugurated the programme and stated that the Dibrugarh University administration had initiated the process for transitioning the Centre for Women’s Studies into a full-fledged Department. Prof. Aparna Dutta Mahanta, the founder Director of CWS, Dibrugarh University, called for collective efforts of different WSCs across North East India and emphasized the need to dwell upon the regional aspects of the discipline.

The panel discussion brought forward many important issues of WSCs in North East India and success stories of transition of WSCs to Departments as well. The panelists strongly deliberated on collaboration, networking and solidarity amongst WSCs as well with other Centres and Departments and various government and non-government organisations to strengthen the WSCs. The key issues that were deliberated upon in the panel discussion included the release of funds, measures to bring stability of WSCs, collaborative work, advocacy and networking, making the WSCs visible through teaching, research, extension and outreach activities and putting united efforts to transform Centres to Departments. The panel discussion gave a platform to discuss various significant issues, challenges and the ongoing crisis of WSCs and Women’s Studies as a discipline. It was unanimously agreed that the WSCs would have to work collectively at the regional and national level to address these issues. The programme ended with the vote of thanks by Dr. Nasmeem F. Akhtar, Chairperson of the Centre for Women’s Studies, Dibrugarh University.