Women's Indian Association

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The Women's Indian Association was an organization formed by the Theosophical Society in Adyar to support local women's groups in their efforts toward self-development, education, and service. It was established on White Lotus Day, May 8, 1917 by Dorothy Jinarājadāsa, with Annie Besant as President and Margaret Cousins as the Honorable General Secretary.

Growth and activities of the organization

K. J. B. Wadia wrote, "A women's Association was already in existence in Bombay and this was turned into a Branch of the new Association on July 25, 1917, by Mrs. Hirenbai A. Tata, a prominent and very active member of the Blavatsky Lodge [Bombay].[1]

Woman Suffrage

In response to the demands of women's groups, some of the Indian provincial governments granted voting privileges to some women beginning with Madras in 1921. Men and women were permitted to vote if they owned land property according to the records of the British administration.[2] Truly universal suffrage for both men and women did not take place under 1950, after India became independent from England.

The Association was represented at the Congress of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance held in Rome on May 14, 1923. Mr. and Mrs. Jinarājadāsa were present, along with Mr. and Mrs. Patwardhan.

A speech from Mrs. Jinarajadasa was... one of the items on the agenda of the Conference, and some resolutions referring to India were expected to come up for support. It is a matter for congratulation that the qualified women in the Madras and Bombay Presidencies, the United Provinces and Burma, are all at the present moment being included in the new electoral registers, and that they will be voters in the elections before the end of this year, and this within only four years of the first demand made by Indian women for the suffrage.... India will be able to rejoice in that International Congress before the Nations of the world that its women are enfranchised on exactly equal terms with its men, not, as in England, on a different qualification, that women must be 30 years old while men need by only 21. We know that the World Sisterhood has been sharing in the pride of our Indian representatives in this matter.[3]

Other activities

Centennial celebration in 2017

Additional resources

NOTE: See also annual General Reports of the TS and The Golden Book of the T. S., Figure 216, and pp 285-87.


  1. K. J. B. Wadia. Fifty Years of Theosophy in Bombay Adyar, Madras, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 71-72.
  2. H. N. Mithra, H.N. The Govt of India ACT 1919 Rules Thereunder and Govt Reports 1920. 2009. ISBN 978-1-113-74177-6
  3. Anonymous, "India at the Women's International Suffrage Congress," New India (May, 23, 1923), 24.