Hyderabad: The fate of gender studies across the country hangs in the balance with the passing of the September 30 deadline that the University Grants Commission (UGC) had set for the regularisation of women’s studies centres.
Dr Deepa Srinivas, a professor at a women’s study centre says, “The Indian Association of Women’s Studies convened a meeting in Delhi last week to discuss an extension of the deadline. We hope that it will be declared in a notice soon. Centres which are being run as statutory bodies will not be affected. However, we do use funds from the UGC to conduct programmes and events.”
Women’s studies centres were notified about the 12th Five-Year Plan, under which they were receiving funds, coming to an end. This led to confusion regarding the running of the centres. The UGC released a notification saying that there were no plans to discontinue the funding offered to women’s studies centres. It said that a team from the commission would conduct reviews after September 30 to decide whether the centres would be allowed to continue under the UGC scheme or not.
Nairah S., a research scholar, says. “There is a lot of uncertainty regarding women’s studies centres. The UGC should clear the air by releasing an official notice saying whether the centres will be reviewed soon or not. The quality of research published by these centres cannot be undermined.”
Professors say that women’s studies centres have been producing literature regarding queer identities, feminism and other gender theories, which are essential for the creation of an open space for discussion. “Their research is crucial to the understanding of gender theories in the Indian context,” says Nairah.
These centres have played an important role in gender sensitisation on campuses, as can be seen at the Kakatiya University in Warangal. The centre has conducted 60 workshops on the issues faced by women.