CWDS has been an autonomous institution since 1980. Its founders authored the landmark Towards Equality
report to mark the United Nations Year of Women in 1975. The report highlighted the political, economic and social dimensions of women’s struggles for equality and gender justice in India. Using Towards Equality as an entry point, CWDS has consistently engaged in action research, debates, writing and advocacy regarding women’s marginalization, gender discrimination in institutional, cultural and social life, and development policy and practice.
During its formative phase, among CWDS’ commitments was to be a catalyst towards advancing the constitutional values of women’s equality, and women’s full and equal participation in public life. Accordingly, the Centre’s early research projects focused on land rights, women’s work, the family and the law to identify impediments to women’s rights in Indian society.
Since its inception and institutional recognition by the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR), CWDS sought to expand the scope of gender perspectives within social science in general, and to advance the idea of women’s studies as an inter-disciplinary field demanding research and policy intervention in particular. CWDS seeks to produce creative, theoretically-informed and empirically-rich research towards its larger objective of establishing gender as a critical, indispensable component of public policy.
Through research, action, documentation, training and networking CWDS aims to deepen critical analyses of trends and issues related to women and gender. Seeking new directions in feminist scholarship, CWDS faculty have initiated and facilitated multi-disciplinary explorations, found new institutional partners, and shared research findings with scholar networks and activists in different settings. In response to the complex economic, political and socio-cultural shifts and challenges of the twenty-first century, CWDS looks towards maintaining a synergy between a focus on contemporary concerns and engagement with emerging developments.