Careers 360|March 2020

India’s 16 women’s universities are training women to thrive, not just in professions typically associated with women, but also in science and tech.
Abhay Anand

There is only one private university in the country with its own flying club and licensed airstrip and it is the all-women’s Banasthali Vidyapith. Established in Tonk, Rajasthan, in 1935, it is one of the world’s largest fully-residential universities for women and enrols over 12,400 students in a year.

Its aviation school, set up in 1962, has produced hundreds of pilots, including the first woman fighter pilot to fly a supersonic jet solo, Flying Officer Avani Chaturvedi.

Banasthali Vidyapith is one of 16 all-women universities in India. Rajasthan has three and Tamil Nadu, two. The oldest is Smt. Nathibai Damodar Thackersey, or SNDT University, in Mumbai, Maharashtra, established in 1916. But nine of the 16 universities were established in the new millennium and three are private.

Some of the oldest of women’s universities, SNDT for example, were born out of social reform and women’s rights movements. Banasthali was set up by the grieving parents of Shantabai, who passed away at just 12.

Today, these universities run courses in general disciplines, of course, but some of them have kept pace with the mainstream, co-educational universities, introducing programmes in the emerging fields of science and technology. They work on women’s empowerment in general and some have also established business incubators and entrepreneurship cells.

Educating women

“Our goal is not just to impart education, but to empower every woman who enrols with us,” said Shashikala Wanjari, Vice-Chancellor, SNDT Women’s University. “Our aim is also to ensure every student gets employment. For that, along with regular courses, we offer add-on courses.” Because its women students may have been marginalised in their families and schools, SNDT launched Mission Shashi in 2017. Under this, they train women in self-defence and build their confidence.


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March 2020