Prof Veena Poonacha is a social entrepreneur, feminist, social worker, anthropologist and most importantly a disruptive trailblazer has changed the lives of women and has acted as catalyzed major reforms in the domain of women empowerment and development. She retired as Director of Research Centre for Women’s Studies (RCWS) SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai, on March 2015. In recognition of her contribution to teaching, research and community development programs, the SNDT Women’s University awarded her the Maharishi Karve Utkrash Shikshak Pursakar (best university teacher award) during its centennial celebrations 2015.
Previously, she was the Director of the RCWS since 2000, and Project Director of Dr. Avabai Wadia and Dr. Bomanji Kurshedji Wadia Archives for Women, since 2009—a project she founded to preserve histories of women in the 20th century. She has been a consultant to the Prime Minister’s High Level Committee, Government of India in 2013 to investigate the situation of women in India. As consultant, she has prepared the background paper of gender based violence in the country. She chaired the Research Advisory Committee for the National Research Centre for Women in Agriculture, Bhubaneswar and has been a member of the Curriculum Development Committee of the University Grants Commission (2010-11).
In an attempt to break the ivory tower isolation of universities, she developed the Centre for Rural Women in Valsad District, South Gujarat. As part of this endeavor (conducted from 2005- 2012) she initiated the self-help group movement in 35 villages.
Her most recent research projects have focused on development deficits in the two urban slums of Sion Koliwada and Behrampada in Mumbai and the situation of Muslim women in Maharashtra. As part of her initiative to expand teaching-learning activities, she introduced MA ,PhD and post graduate certificate course in women’s studies at the SNDT Women’s University.
She has been awarded research fellowships by the Australia India Council in 2008, University of British Colombia, Canada in 1997 and visiting faculty in the University of Regina, Canada.
Some of her publications are as follows: From the Land of a Thousand Hills: Portraits of Three Women of Coorg (Kodagu) in South India; Towards an Integrated Model of Higher Education; Interpreting Gandhi Differently: Portraying the Lives and Work of Two Gandhian Women; Negotiating Historical Spaces: Reclaiming Women’s Agency in the Writing of History.