Certificate in Multidisciplinary Women’s Studies

For a period of two years (1995 and 1996) the IWSL ran extensive short workshops / courses in various parts of Pakistan at local, provincial and national levels with particular emphasis on the 12 issues identified during the process to Beijing. On another level, a three-month course organized as a discussion or study group on political economy was held by the IWSL.

The IWSL has developed its formal courses and organized the taught component of the Institute’s training programmes. Experimental courses ran during this period with faculty and participants. This enabled the evolution of a unique multidimensional programme which is both exciting. The main course developed was the three-month residential course in multidisciplinary Women’s Studies. How to run the course was worked out in detail repeatedly, in attempts to be realistic in terms of time and resources without having to compromise the aims of the course. Eventually, it was decided that this course would be run in modules one after the other rather than modules running one simultaneously throughout the semester. This is both feasible in terms of faculty and cost implications.

This three-month course leading to a Certificate in Women’s Studies has already been offered six time by IWSL during the past ten years. The course had Pakistani and international students who comprised of trainers, activists, NGO workers, academics, media workers / artists, researchers, professionals, economists, sociologists, teachers, journalists, lawyers, architects, doctors and those interested in women’s issues, who would like to keep abreast with developments in Women’s Studies and the women’s movement, nationally and internationally, without enrolling in an institution in the West. They represented different countries like India, Nepal, Bangladesh, South Africa, Nigeria, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Instructors drawn from the pool of visiting national and international faculty facilitated the course. 

Details of Certificate Courses are as follows:

Sr # Title Number of students  
1. Three month Certificate course in Multidisciplinary Women’s Studies; February 5 to May 1, 1998 22
2. Three month Certificate course in Multidisciplinary Women’s Studies; January 31 to April 16, 1999 17
3. Three month Certificate course in Multidisciplinary Women’s Studies; February 01 to April 07, 2000   23
4. Three month Certificate course in Multidisciplinary Women’s Studies; February 02 to April 28, 2002 20
5. Three month Certificate course in Multidisciplinary Women’s Studies; February 03 to April 2, 2003 18
6. Three month Certificate course in Multidisciplinary Women’s Studies; February 05 to April 28, 2004 14


  • The total number of certificate courses is 6 attended by 114 students. Nighat Said Khan, the Executive Director of ASR, co-taught a major part of the course every year.

Objectives of the course:

  • To offer planned and intensive study- based courses in Women’s Studies.
  • To encourage activists to build on their knowledge and theories; and academics, and professionals to integrate activism into their area of work.
  • To provide trainers, activists, professionals, NGO workers, academics, media workers/artists, researchers with an informed grasp and understanding of concepts, perspectives, strategies related to feminisms, women, and development.
  • To assist women conducting research in an institutional setting with supervision/consultation and facilities.
  • To provide a space for reflection, research, reading and writing in a conducive and supportive environment.
  • To facilitate critical dialogue, fruitful interaction, and intellectual exchange among Pakistani, South Asian and international, especially Third World, academics.

As a process, the programme was committed to:

__     review and build on changes in the socioeconomic and political context of the Asian and international women’s movement.

__   create awareness and work towards transformation of society through personal and political consciousness.

__     strengthen professional and institutional capacities of non-government and government organisations in developing countries, at policy, planning and managerial levels.

__     include in the definition of Women’s Studies analysis of related sectors such as labour/peasant studies, development studies, cultural studies, identity politics, and economics.

__     institutionalise and integrate Women’s Studies in all sectors and disciplines or professions.