Women’s Colleges


When you look at all the colleges that are not affiliated with DUSU, you will notice that most of them turn out to be women’s colleges rather than co-ed institutions. Is this because of what the students want, or what the college administration deems “right”, or what society considers a norm?

Delhi University is defined by some key components that make up the whole “DU college experience”— the campus, the food, and the infamous student union elections. But you would be wrong to assume that this is the case in each and every college of Delhi University. As of 2019, a total of only 52 DU colleges and faculties are affiliated with the Delhi University Student Union, lovingly referred to as DUSU.


A large proportion of the colleges not-affiliated with DUSU comprise women’s colleges, leaving barely any women’s colleges to be a part of DUSU. The question arises— does an internal bias really exist amongst the female DU students to not want to be part of the process and the complications of DUSU or is this just a manifestation of a system of historical entrenchment of women, not just in politics but in society as a whole?

The scene that we witness on larger political platforms like in various state assemblies or in the parliament, with men occupying most of the positions of power and women being given only token representation, can be seen trickling down onto the university level as well. Many of the contesting groups have only one female contestant amongst a group largely dominated by male candidates, a clear misrepresentation of the ratio of male to female students in the Delhi University student body.

When DUSU is not included in it (women’s colleges), I think it is taking away a lot of political autonomy…. (when) people opt out of it (DUSU) or when we aren’t kept in the loop, we miss out on a lot of political discussions and a lot of very important decisions that can be taken by us,” says Avantika, a former student from Gargi College.


Rather than addressing the concern of college administrations themselves not wanting their colleges to be a part of DUSU, the primary concern would be to address the question of whether female students themselves want to be a part of these elections.

It is not only about if we WANT to be part of the elections or not, but also that women always have and will have more restrictions— in terms of curfews, family concerns, safety issues, etc. Essentially, the way DU politics functions currently makes it very difficult for women to be part of the same, and that gives everyone an excuse and a justification to just not include women in DUSU in general,” says a 1st-year student from Delhi University.

The kind of freedom that male candidates possess and use has always existed in parallel to women candidates. The early curfews mean that most women candidates end up being unable to dedicate the same amount of time campaigning or organising events as a male candidate and the concern for safety, specifically in a city like Delhi, does not add positively to it. 

While entering into politics, women majorly face harassment, (wrongful) comments, and at times sexual torture. They are threatened and majorly, they are emotionally blackmailed,” says Meenakshi Yadav, a 2nd-year journalism student from LSR, who is also serving as the president of SFI LSR.

All these factors have, in a sense, culminated to form a sort of vicious cycle— women cannot give enough time or resources to the elections due to the systematic exclusion of women from public life, which leads to them being at a disadvantage and ultimately, in most scenarios, to them not being elected. This ends with a bare minimum representation of women in the elected panel and when women aren’t occupying decision-making positions, how do we expect women’s issues to come up and be addressed on public platforms?


But this is definitely not the only or the complete reason behind the non-participation of women’s colleges in DUSU. Most college administrations would rather not have their college be a part of DUSU, with many of them following on this path since the very beginning while others have pulled out from DUSU in recent years. “Yeh college DU politics ka part nhi hai, yahan padhayi acche se hogi” is a phrase most of the students in these non-DUSU colleges—like St. Stephens, Lady Shri Ram College for Women, or Gargi College—have heard at least once in their life, and this is exactly what the college administration exploits as well. Colleges that are not affiliated with DUSU go so far as this non-affiliation usually gets endorsed by the college administration and further appreciated by prospective students and their parents.

Most of the faculty at these colleges believe that the time during and around the DUSU elections is bubbling with hooliganism and leads to a very disruptive atmosphere in the college. Monika Nandi, associate professor at the Indraprastha College, is against taking part in DUSU elections “because of the use of money and muscle power”. But the teachers also do not hold a unanimous opinion over this. On the other hand, Bhupinder Chaudhary, associate professor at the Maharaja Agrasen College, does not feel that the issue of money and muscle power subsides by restricting the college’s or students’ access to DUSU. “All college students are above 18. If at that age they are allowed to elect the country’s government, why should they not be allowed to elect their union? Moreover, he raises a very valid question, that is, if teachers can have their own union, the Delhi University Teacher Association, then why can’t (shouldn’t) the students?

Most of the colleges don’t want to indulge in the disturbances which come from external sources like colleges, media, students, etc. (during elections). They want to keep a peaceful environment by suppressing the opportunities of students. They fear the revolution and violence that they think they will have to face if the students are involved in Politics, ” continues Meenakshi, in conversation with a DU Beat correspondent.

College administration would rather argue that it is for the “benefit” of the female students that the college would rather not affiliate itself with DUSU, citing the same reasons that society has cited to women for centuries now— “It’s for your own safety” or “Acche ghar ki ladkiyan yeh sab nhi krti”, all platitudes to suppress the voice of women in a world standing on the foundation of patriarchal bullies and misogynistic ideals. 

They tell us to lock up our doors, shut tight our windows, dress right, look down, speak low, hide away; because whatever makes it unsafe for us out there, that is not going to go away. 


So yes, women have been told to hide away for decades, and yes, “men will be men” and “we can’t change the society” have been the go-to phrases for centuries of missed opportunities and stolen platforms, but does that mean that in 2022, women belonging to such prestigious institute ons like Delhi university colleges— well-educated and independent-thinking women— should be denied of opportunities as basic as being able to vote? Even though all these colleges might not be a part of DUSU but that does not mean that DUSU does not affect these colleges. None of us exist in a vacuum. Delhi University has always been and will always be highly interdependent, so how does it make sense for the college administration to deny a platform like DUSU to students just because in technicality it is allowed? How does it make sense for us to talk about women’s problems in front of a male-dominated panel, elected by a predominantly male student population, who belong to an electoral college that barely includes any women colleges? How does it make sense to be living in a time when we still need to fight for women’s suffrage?


Read also ‘Who Run The World? Aes(that)ic Girls Do!’ 


Feature Image Credits: indiatvnews.com


Manasvi Kadian

[email protected]

How should institutions founded on the notion that female-only spaces are vital, respond to and incorporate transgender students? 

Sehba (name changed on request) joined a girls’ college affiliated to the University of Delhi (DU) in the academic year 2016- 17. Born as a female, he never identified with the gender he was assigned at birth. He underwent a gender affirming surgery when he was in his second year of college. While he has had to struggle with the transition and guarded acceptance from his family, the college administration has made matters worse by threatening to cancel his admission. Four months into the gender affirming surgery, the status of his admission and continuance in the college is shrouded in doubt and uncertainty.

The questions revolving around this issue have wider connotations which have confounded admission officials at women’s colleges of DU in recent years. Should transgender women be allowed to apply? If so, how far into the gender transition process must an applicant be to be recognised as a woman? The transgender rights movement has now gained visibility, thereby challenging the existing institution of single-sex education in India, which has always been a largely heteronormative space.

Just how many transgender students, if any, are attending women’s colleges in DU remains unknown. Many colleges won’t disclose such information citing privacy concerns. Notwithstanding this, there has been a rise in the presence of transgender students in girls’ colleges across the country. With this increased visibility comes backlash that materialises in harassment against trans students.

When asked about the steps taken, if any, by college managements to prevent harassment of transgender students in girls’ colleges, Professor Arunima Roy, said, “We as an institution do whatever is in our capacity to provide counseling to the concerned students and figure out a suitable arrangement for them. However, the situation becomes tricky since the varsity has not issued specific guidelines regarding the admittance of transgender students in girls’ colleges.”

When DU Beat asked a graduate from Miranda House, Harshita Gujral, whether trans students should be allowed in a girls’ college or not, she responded in the affirmative and said, “Trans people are equally deserving of the kind of rights-centred environment that women’s colleges provide.” However, another graduate from the same college, Panchi Kalra, said, “Giving such status to trans people in women’s colleges would ultimately undermine the institutional mission to empower women.”

Women’s colleges of DU have long offered women a sanctuary from certain aspects of discrimination they face in the wider world. Now, these colleges have to decide whether or not to broaden their horizons of feminism, after all, intersectionality is everything.

Feature Image Credits: DU Beat

Vaibhavi Sharma Pathak
[email protected]

Women’s colleges across the globe have had the history of producing some of the smartest, bravest and greatest minds we’ve seen – from Hilary Clinton to Aung Sang Suu Kyi, from Sheila Dikshit to Gita Gopinath – the most brilliant women today credit their successes to their all girl alma maters. So what values do these all women institutions instill in their students that inspire them to achieve greatness? A sense of confidence, a feeling of being comfortable in one’s own skin, breaking stereotypes, understanding that the only person you need to impress is yourself? Ofcourse!

Besides these, the experience of studying a women’s college is like no other – our college life comes with its own set of problems, solutions and sweet nothings. Some funny and some downright crazy, here is a list of ten little things that I’ve learned from my experience in a women’s college:

1)      Being a male professor is not easy – Can you imagine the plight of a man aged between 25-50 teaching a class of fifty 19 year old girls? Well, you can’t! Each move he makes is scrutinized, duly noted and discussed after class. God forbid he decides to wear acid wash jeans, mispronounces a word, or says one thing too many times, he can be rest assured to be topic of discussion throughout the day!

2)      Pyjamas are completely acceptable college wear – While this may vary from individual to individual and from college to college, most of us couldn’t care less about our attire in college. In the end, it’s all about being comfortable.

3)      College fests are a time when all your guy friends will decide you exist – WHAT IS WITH BOYS WANTING TO ENTER GIRLS COLLEGES? I mean, relax guys, we aren’t a species from outer space and our campus is not a UFO! Sure, come in and see what our fest is all about but don’t treat us like exotic birds you’d like to sight at a picnic with your pals.

4)      Beauty is not skin deep – Forgot to get your eyebrows done? Or shave your legs? Been too busy to watch your weight? Welcome to no man’s land. As long as you’re a great person and can help a friend in need, we really couldn’t care less!

5)      Everybody here is not a feminist – Sure, many of us lean towards gender studies or feminism as a political ideology, and that maybe because of the stark difference in our lives in and outside college, but not everybody claims to be a feminist, per se.

6)      Being a feminist and being lesbian are two different things – Many of us have heard this and it’s gets more frustrating each time. Feminism is not a man hating, lesbian loving idea – it’s an idea striving for equality of all genders in every sense, and should not be associated only with women’s colleges.

7)      Women aren’t delicate creatures who need to be constantly pampered – There are NO men here – we take our own food to the table, shift around the heavy furniture all by ourselves, travel alone and are well aware that the ‘girls are soft, boys are strong idea’ is stupid and has no place in the 21st century.

8)      Men who advocate for gender justice are extremely ‘sexy’ to us – Okay, so to be clear here, there is no battle of the sexes. There are men who are pathetic and misogynist; there are also women who think the same way. When we see someone from the privileged sex with the intellectual capacity to make sense of the war against women and genders other than male – and because it’s not very common – our hearts can’t help but leap with joy!

9)      There are no flocks of guys waiting outside the gates of our college – This is a myth buster – there are no boys peeping in from gates and windows, no men trying to sneak in. The only men outside college are the auto vaala bhaiyas, the rickshaw vaala bhaiyas, the bhelpuri/sevpuri bhaiyas and the icecream vaala bhaiyas.

10)  College is a real place, not Barbie land – Contrary to what outsiders or aspirants may think, everybody is not incredibly feminine, nor are there catfights, or women making out behind bushes. We go there to study, have fun, and learn about life – and that’s exactly what we do!

College teaches us all of this and more – love it or hate it, you’re going to learn here – both about yourself and about the world, and when you’re learning all of this in a women’s college, your life is going to be all new and very unique roller coaster. All freshers going to women’s colleges – welcome aboard!