Indien: Devaki Jain

Devaki Jain is a pioneer in the field of women's studies in India, and an institution-builder who combines an academic vision with practical, even marketing, wisdom.

— Devaki Jain

Devaki Jain (born 1933) is a pioneer in the field of women's studies in India and an institution-builder who combines vision with practical wisdom. She is also a grassroots worker, despite a heavy schedule of national and international commitments. Apart from her academic work, Devaki has been involved in marketing products generated by rural women and training these women to market medicinal herbal plants.

Graduating as an economist, Devaki Jain focused on development. She soon found herself studying the role of women in development, which became the bedrock of her career. Devaki displayed a remarkable capacity to network between diverse groups of people. This talent bore fruit when, in 1980, she founded the Institute of Social Studies Trust (ISST) to initiate and coordinate research and analyses on women's issues. At the ISST, which she headed until 1995, Devaki initiated pioneering research projects on new initiatives for women's development. The organization facilitated the birth of Mahila Haat, a market-window for women producers, supported a proposal to set up a women's publishing house and the development of many organizations for self-employed women. The unflagging Devaki has also been a family counselor. Recently, she has been focusing her energies on training rural women to cultivate and market medicinal plants. In the past few years, she has devoted herself to building up the Singamma Sreenivasan Foundation in Karnataka, where she lives. The Foundation began by exploring alternative agricultural strategies that benefit women, but now works on a wider canvas of women-related issues. Devaki was one of two women awarded the Bradford Morse Memorial Award at the World Conference in Beijing in 1995 "for outstanding achievements through professional and voluntary activities in promoting the advancement of women and gender equality for 20 years". She is actively involved with government forums and civil society initiatives on equity, development, self-government, and population; she has promoted women's studies through research and analyses; and she has encouraged appropriate policy interventions. Devaki has been an advocate of change through her writings in the media, speeches, and publications.

Singamma Sreenivasan Foundation