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Medha Kotwal

Medha Kotwal Lele (Program Director, Pune, India) has a PhD in Political Science from the 

University of Pune (1988)and has taught Political Science at the undergraduate level at various colleges in Pune.

Since 2011 she has been associated as Faculty at the Alliance for Global Education, Pune Program and teaches Social Justice and Social Entrepreneurship. She has also taught a Gender course at the ACM Pune Program in 2013 and 2014. Medha has been conducting seminars and delivering lectures for Swedish Students of Social Work and Pedagogy for the last two decades under the SWINDA study abroad program in Pune.

As a young woman studying for her Master’s degree in Political Science, she got drawn to social activism. A social activist since 1975, Medha has been actively associated with the Women’s Movement in western India participating in campaigns against violence, unjust laws, political rights, sexual harassment, and human rights.

Her commitment motivated her to founding the Aalochana Centre for Documentation and Research on Women, Pune in 1989, one of the first women’s resource centers in the state of Maharashtra. Its seminal contribution was in providing substantial information on women-centric social, cultural and political issues in the regional language, Marathi.

As Coordinator of the Centre, Medha has conducted several programs for the empowerment of women, especially in rural areas. Motivated by their participation in these capacity-building training programs, scores of women have confidently stepped into positions of authority as heads of “gram panchayats” or village councils. The Aalochana Centre has subsequently documented these experiences in the form of short films and audio-visuals.

Medha has published several articles highlighting the political experiences of women working at the field level and the significant impact of the 33% electoral reservation for women in governance, and has contributed chapters to books on similar issues.

Bringing grassroots experiences and academics together is something she feels strongly about and has been involved in different activities towards that end. For instance, she was the Project Coordinator for Pune centre for ‘StreeNet’ - the first Internet based course on Feminist Studies for social activists and students in India. This was in collaboration with ‘Akshara Gender Resource Center, Mumbai’ in 2002. She was also invited to be a member of the Board of Studies, Women’s Studies Department, University of Pune (2001-2006).

Medha was a Member of the Advisory Committee (India) of the Global Fund for Women, USA and travelled to Beijing in 2006, in this capacity. She has been invited to speak at various international conferences and presented research papers in seminars at Kampuchea, Mexico, and Costa Rica. She has delivered lectures at Bard College (1993) and Tulsa University in the USA (2015).