After being in the news for alleged gender bias, the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) has for the first time elected a woman to its influential teacher's association.
S Chandni Bi, assistant professor of history, has been elected to the powerful executive council of the AMUTA (Aligarh Muslim Unversity Teachers Association), officials said.
"It's a significant development and I hope to further the cause of women's emancipation, a cherished wish of the founder of the AMU, Sir Syed (Ahmed Khan). I would say the university is evolving and gradually responding to changing demands and perceptions. The AMU teachers association is an important body and can effect significant changes," Chandni Bi told IANS.
Perhaps the time has now come for a major push to reforms to change the profile of this great institution, she added.
Chandni Bi was unanimously elected along with four other members -- Waseem Raja, Abdul Hakim Khan, Inamuddin and Shakir Ali -- to the executive council.
Ten applications were received for five vacancies of AMUTA's election commission by chief election officer Saleem Akthar. Five withdrew and the remaining five were elected without opposition, according to Saleem.
The AMU has been in the news in the past few months with girls from various hostels demanding the free right to enter the library and participation in the cultural programmes.
"Facilities for women teachers and girl students are lacking in some faculties, especially with regard to toilets," said a student not wanting to identify herself.
Women's College students have been waging a struggle to be permitted to enter the gates of the university Library, and equal rights on the campus.
Activists say that Maulana Azad Library is the best and the biggest but female students from various undergraduate programmes are not permitted entry.
But things will now begin to change, said Chandni Bi.
In February, some activists had presented then vice chancellor P.K. Abdul Azis with a concept paper that among others things discussed "immediate issue of Maulana Azad library cards to the Women's College students and restarting and making available facilities of learning - including coaching facilities (CGC) and GEC facility".
The paper also said the university should "increase facilities in the women's college library; and to upgrade facilities in the women's college so as to ease the pressure on students with regard to access to educational facilities".