We are a group of women who came together seventeen years ago to create a space where we could address a diverse range of concerns relating to women, to our own situations – an effort that would take us ahead on the road to realising women's rights…
In creating this space we were clear about several things. First, the space would be inclusive – there will be women across class, caste, community, region who will be our partners; it will be focussed on the specific needs and history of the state of Andhra Pradesh, and will address women's concerns given that history and location; our programmes will reach out in every possible way, creating in the process a new grammar for advocating women's rights, rather than be fitted into existing strategies of mobilising and advocacy that were being practised from left to right.
Most of us who came together in 1991 were women who had been active in autonomous women's groups in different parts of the country since the late 1970s and had participated in major debates on questions of equality, the state and violence against women through the 1980s. We brought this understanding with us into the group that we were setting up with the clear objective of spreading the consciousness of women's rights with enthusiasm, diligence and cheer.
For seventeen years now, we have worked in diverse fields, in a range of partnerships across the country and have been fortunate, despite several anxious moments, in finding support for the work that we do. We are very proud of the range of our work and the appreciation we have won across the country and abroad.
When we began our journey in 1991, noted Telugu feminist writer Volga, who has received several literary awards, was our President and Kalpana Kannabiran, Sociologist and a VKRV Rao awardee was Secretary. Our Executive Committee has been drawn from distinguished members of the teaching and medical professions. Our Vice Presidents in the past have been Professor. Leela Masilamoni who was the head of the Department of English in Osmania University and Dr. Gowri Jayaram who was a Senior Deputy Chief Medical Officer in the Nuclear Fuel Complex. Our other members have been journalists, doctors, teachers and housewives. Today, award winning Urdu novelist Jeelani Bano heads the organisation. Noted development consultant, teacher, poet and translator Vasanth Kannabiran, a founding member, has been a guiding force, a constant presence and source of strength.