The All India Women’s Education Fund Association (AIWEFA) was founded in 1929 under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi and vibrant women stalwarts of the freedom movement like Sarojini Naidu, Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, Aruna Asaf Ali, Kamladevi Chattopadhyay, Annie Besant among others, to empower women.
Education was recognised as the catalytic agent for social change, and in 1932, AIWEFA established the Home Science College, Lady Irwin College, New Delhi to bring a scientific temper in women’s education. And also to integrate more women into the freedom movement as, with education, it was felt, they would better understand the implications of living in a free India.
For the last eight decades, AIWEFA’s implemented programmes to promote holistic and sustainable development in rural and urban areas. Activities promoted education and training of women to advance women’s rights; training was imparted in relevant issues like violence against women; family and child care; environmental sustainability; nutrition and health; vocational skills to enhance economic empowerment and to build their capacity for political representation and participation, especially in village level Panchayat level. Rural initiatives included the introduction of drudgery reducing tools/ equipments for farm and off farm work.
Combining academic strength with sound implementation and training strategies, AIWEFA adopted a sustainable approach to human development through field projects. AIWEFA organized campaigns, national and international conferences, seminars, workshops; developed Information Education Material (IEC) material, publications; build partnerships with NGOs (lndia Alliance for Child Rights, Sulabh, Development Alternatives), Government (Department of Science & Technology, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Delhi State), Public Sector (GAIL), Corporate (Google, Lupin Foundation), and Bilateral agencies (UNESCO, FAO, Ford Foundation, UN Women, UNICEF).
In 1999 AIWEFA has been granted the “NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC)”. In 2003 AIWEFA accepted the role of Regional Coordinator of the UN’s Informal Regional Network of NGOs (NGO IRENE).