The WRAG Team
BOARD OF TRUSTEES
Saumya Uma Ms. Saumya Uma works as a consultant on gender, human rights and the law, and is the Managing Trustee of Women’s Research & Action Group (WRAG). She researches, writes, speaks, conducts trainings and engages in advocacy initiatives on issues including communal violence, right against torture, violence and discrimination against women, repressive laws, rights of victims and witness protection, and economic, social and cultural rights of adolescent girls. She presently works as an international consultant for UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR), preparing a tool on witness protection with an integration of gender concerns. In 2010-11, she worked on the government-appointed Advisory Committee for formulating the Prevention of Communal and Targetted Violence Bill, under the ageis of the National Advisory Council, Prime Minister's Office, Goveernment of India. She previously worked in WRAG in the capacity of Co-Director and thereafter as Executive Director, from the years 2002-2010. She has also worked as the National Coordinator of ICC-India: the Indian campaign on International Criminal Court – an anti-impunity campaign on mass crimes and international law – from 2002 to 2010. She has authored books and articles on human rights, mass crimes, gender and the law. She is an active member of networks on human rights, including the Mumbai Initiative for Human Rights Education, Kashmir Solidarity Group, All India Secular Forum and Maharashtra Network for Protection of Domestic Violence Act. She holds a masters’ degree in human rights law from the University of Mumbai (1998) and in international human rights law from the University of Nottingham, UK (1999). She is a life member of the Indian Association of Women’s Studies. She has actively associated with the women’s movement and human rights movement in India since for the past 18 years.
Ms. Vahida Nainar has been working on women’s rights / human rights issues for the past 18 years. She was the Founder-Director of Women’s Research and Action Group, Mumbai and continues to remain involved as member of the Board of Trustees. She is the former Executive Director of the Women’s Caucus for Gender Justice, New York that worked to include a gender perspective in the International Criminal Court. She has been closely associated with Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice, The Hague; the Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights, USA & Kenya and International Solidarity Network of Women Living Under Muslim Laws, London. She was an Adjunct Professor of Law at the International Women’s Human Rights Clinic, CUNY School of Law, New York. She is a life member of the Indian Association of Women’s Studies. She works nationally and internationally on issues of justice, human rights, gender and conflict.
Vibhuti Patel is professor and head of the University Department of Economics of SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai. She is a member of Expert Committee on School of Gandhian Thoughts, Board member of School of Extension & Development Studies and Board member of School of Gender and Development Studies for Indira Gandhi Open University (IGNOU). She is a member of Advisory Board of Department of Women’s Studies of National Council of Education, Research and Training (NCERT), Delhi. She was a member of subgroup on Gender and Agriculture for the 11th Five Year Plan, the Planning Commission of India, GOI, Delhi. She is Expert Committee (EC) for Science and Technology, Ministry of Science and Technology, GoI, Delhi and National Advisory Board, PACS 2 (a programme of DFID), National Operations Office, Indian Forum for Inclusive Response & Social Transformation (IFIRST), Delhi and Technical Advisory Group for the project “Enhancing male participation for improving gender equality in Maharashtra” by UNFPA.
She prepared base paper on Gender for Mumbai Human Development Report (2010), Maharashtra Human Development Report (2012) and MMRDA Human Development Report (2012).
- Award for Social sector work from mayor of Mumbai, BMC on 8-3-2011,
- “Outstanding Citizenship Award” by Women Political Forum on Maharashtra Stree Mukti Din, 3rd January 2004, Award for Women Achievers From Young Environmentalists Programme Trust, Mumbai on 7th march 2011,
- the Times Foundation Award For Women Achievers on march 8, 2007 and
- Award for Social Work from Vanita Samaj, Mumbai on 18-1-2008.
- Award post-doctoral fellowship from Association Of Commonwealth University That Enabled Her To Work As Visiting Faculty At The Development Studies Institute Of The London School Of Economics And Political Science during 1992-93.
- The International Journal Of Economics, Education And Development (TIJEED), Switzerland,
- Bharatiya Samajik Chintan, Indian Academy Of Social Sciences, Allahabad,
- Social Modernity-Asian Journal Of Social Sciences, Ranchi,
- The Urban World, Quarterly Journal Of Regional Centre For Urban Environmental Studies, All India Institute Of Local Self Government, Mumbai
- Quest in Education, A Quarterly Journal Published By Gandhi Shikshan Bhavan, Mumbai.
She Was A Guest Editor Of A Special Number of Samyukta, Vol. V, No. 1, May 2005 On "Women And Development", Published By Women's Initiatives and Bharatiya Samajik Chintan Published By Indian Academy Of Social Sciences Vol. VII, No. 2, July-September, 2008
She has made contributions in Women’s Studies and Gender Economics. She has authored a book Women’s Challenges of the New Millennium by Gyan Publication, Delhi, published in 2002. She has co-authored two books: Indian Women - Change and Challenge (1985) and Reaching for Half the Sky (1985). She has co-edited volume Macro Economic Policies and the Millennium Development Goals published by Gyan Publications, Delhi in 2006. She is co-editor of series of 15 volumes on Empowering Women Worldwide, The Women Press, Delhi, 2008. She has edited the book, Discourse on Women and Empowerment, The Women Press, Delhi, 2009 and Girls and Girlhoods-At the Threshold of Youth and Gender, 2010 by The Women Press, B. R. Publications, Delhi.
For twelve years, she wrote on Development Studies and Gender Issues for ECONOMIC TIMES and several academic journals. She has authored research monographs on Women’s Studies, Women’s movement, Portrayal of Women in Media, Alternate Media by Social Movements, Sex determination Tests and Declining Sex Ratio, Abuse of new reproductive technologies, Violence Against Women, Gender Audit of Budget and Work Participation of Women and has presented papers in several national and international seminars, workshops, training programmes and conferences and conducted researches in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, The Philippines, Thailand, Kenya, Senegal, France, The U.K., The Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Yugoslavia, U.S.A. and The USSR. Her articles and research papers have appeared in several Indian and foreign languages in the national & international scholarly journals. She was officially invited to participate in the UN End of Women’s Decade Conference in Nairobi (1985), the Festival of India in USSR, Moscow (1988), ILO Regional Conference in Bangkok (2003) and 49th UN Convention on Status of Women, New York (2005) and UNFPA Convention in Nepal, 2005.
Many capable and enthusiastic women have donated their time and energy towards nurturing and guiding the organization from its conception, by being members of the Board of Trustees in the past. WRAG makes a tribute and acknowledges the guidance and support of our past trustees, including Saeeda Khan, Vipula Kadri and Noorjehan Safia Niaz.
Ms. Nasreen S. Mohammed Contractor is the Co-Director of WRAG. She holds a Masters Degree in Social Work from the College of Social Work, Mumbai University. She has worked closely with community groups and NGOs in Mumbai city, India and the South Asia Region. She has expertise in capacity building and action research on several development issues including: gender, conflict and education. She is a visiting faculty with the College of Social Work, Nirmala Niketan. She has actively engaged in civil society campaigns on the above issues. She has also undertaken several Consultancy Projects on these themes for organizations such as: Youth For Unity & Voluntary Action; Asian South Pacific Partnerships for Basic & Adult Education; Rangoonwala Foundation India Trust and UNICEF.
Doctor Varsha Rajan Berry is a professional with 13 years of experience in the field of research, activism and network building in the area of peace, democracy and human rights. She presently works as a Co-Director of Women’s Research and Action Group (WRAG). She is also associated with South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR) – a human rights group based in Sri Lanka as its India Coordinator on a part-time basis. She actively engages with civil society dialogue on a range of issues between India and Pakistan. She has played a key role in setting up various peace networks at local, national and regional level, including Kashmir Solidarity Group, Peace Mumbai and Citizens’ Initiative for Peace. She has brought out research publications from time to time, have also written and presented papers in national and international forums. She obtained a doctorate in International Politics on the issue of Women and War, from the school of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi in 2001 and was a recipient of a University scholarship for the same.
Leena K.K. is the longest serving member of WRAG, having been with the organization since its inception in 1993. She played an active role during the data collection and assimilation phase of the action-research titled Women & Law in the Muslim Community (1994-98). She now works with WRAG in the capacity of Accounts Assistant and is responsible for office administration and accounts. Over the years she has assisted WRAG in organizing various state and national level meetings and conferences. She is also responsible for coordination of WRAG’s resource material and is actively involved with the distribution of WRAG publications.
Poonam Ramdas Ingale Completed B.A in Marathi Literature and B.Ed from S.N.D.T Now enrolled for completing post graduation in Marathi Literature. Working jointed WOMENS RESEARCH AND ACTION GROUP from 01 August 2012. Working as office Administrator.
Jatin Desai. Born to a Gujarati family, in Mumbai, Jatin was a University student during the years of Emergency and opted to join the democratic forces fighting Mrs. Gandhi's autocratic regime. Once through with his studies, after Emergency, Jatin joined the land rights movement of Adivasi communities in the Dhule and Thane districts of Maharshtra. He went into journalism in the mid 80s to work with Gujarati Dailies, before he joined Mid Day. He was also a chairperson of Bombay Union of Journalists (BUJ) for four years. He opted out of full-time journalism to give more time to activism, which was closer to his heart. Presently a Joint Secretary with Pakistan India People's Forum for Peace & Democracy (PIPFPD) and also a South Asia known personality for his consistent work on fishermen's/prisoners release, Indo-Pak journalists initiatives and work on Siachen, Sir Creek conflicts. He is also a bureau member of South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR) and coordinates the 'Dialogue for Action'.
Vijay Hiremath is a lawyer and activist from Mumbai, India, and has been working in the field of human rights for more than 10 years. His major area of work is with the criminal justice system. He represents indigent prisoners at the trial courts as well as the appellate courts, women who are victims of domestic violence and sexual assault and children who are abused or who are caught at the wrong end of the law. Vijay continues to represent organisations and groups on various human rights issues. He has also assisted prosecution of offenders under the Pre-Conception Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act. Vijay actively participates in the campaign against death penalty and in his capacity as a lawyer, he represents prisoners, including juveniles, on death row. He has worked as a consultant for several organisations and groups and is also involved in various research projects. Recently he conducted a research on death penalty for a UK-based organisation - Reprieve. He has authored several articles and also co-authored books on Criminal Law for activists, Prisoner’s Rights and Handbook on Health Rights. Vijay has done research on the issues of death penalty, prisoners’ rights, custodial deaths, health rights and also on labour issues. He has worked with India Centre for Human Rights and Law (known as Human Rights Law Network in other parts of India) and also with Lawyer’s Collective. Vijay has also taught law in K.C. Law College, Mumbai and is currently the guest faculty at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.
Rakesh Mittal has over 30 years of work experience in the field of Financial Management of civil society organizations. He is a graduate in science, a graduate in Law with honors and a Chartered Accountant. He is more a social activist than a typical professional CA. He is an International Consultant for Charities at global level. He has advised many National - International Organizations working in the field of education, health, rural development, environment, social uplift & empowerment, human rights & advocacy, tax justice, climate change, water & sanitation, drug addiction, child abuse disaster management etc. on financial management, taxation, charity laws, governance and structural planning. He has served on many committees in different Ministries of the Government of India, namely, Committees under Ministry of HRD, Ministry of Women & Child Development, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment and The Planning Commission, on account of his professional expertise. He is a globetrotter, travelled more than 50 countries so far in connection with his work & otherwise, including USA, Canada, Latin America and countries of UK, Europe, Africa & Asia subcontinent. He has received many recognitions at national & international level for his committment to the social sector. To name the few are: the prestigious “Indira Gandhi Priyadarshini National Award” in the year 2002 for outstanding contribution in the social sector, the "Rotary Centennial Award for the Professional Excellence" in the year 2004 from Rotary International, USA and the “Service Above Self Award” in the year 2006, The highest recognition of Rotary International in the world.
VOLUNTEERS AND INTERNS
Arushi Garg, She is a final year student enrolled in the BA-LLB (Hons.) course at the NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad. She is interested in studying ways of ending impunity for mass atrocities through mechanisms of international criminal law.
Gana Meethal, Completed Masters in Economics from University of Mumbai (2009-11). Was Lecturer at The Byramjee Jeejeebhoy College of Commerece. At present undergoing internship with WRAG.
Meghna Chatterji from Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh Completed Bachelors from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Tuljapur with specialisation in Rural Development. Presently doing Post graduation in Women Studies from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.