Devaki Jain
Devaki Jain
AwardsPadma Bhushan
Academic background
Alma materUniversity of Oxford
Academic work
InstitutionsUniversity of Delhi
Main interestsFeminist economics

Devaki Jain (born 1933) is an Indian economist and writer, who has worked mainly in the field of feminist economics. In 2006 she was awarded the Padma Bhushan, the third-highest civilian award from Government of India, for her contribution to social justice and the empowerment of women.[1]

Early life

Jain was born in Mysore, the daughter of M. A. Sreenivasan, a minister in the Princely State of Mysore and was also Dewan of Gwalior.


Jain studied at various convent schools in India. Having graduated from Mysore University in 1953 with three gold medals for the first rank in Mathematics, English, and Overall Performance she later [2] attended St Anne's College, Oxford.[3] Having graduated from Oxford with a degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, she then taught economics at Delhi University until 1969.[3]

United Nations and international networking

Devaki Jain in June 2011

Through working on her book, Women in India, she involved herself in feminist issues. She took an active part in writing, lecturing, networking, building, leading, and supporting women.

Jain was founder of the Institute of Social Studies Trust (ISST) in New Delhi and served as director until 1994. She has also worked in the field of women's employment and edited the book Indian Women for India's International Women's Year.

Gandhian philosophy has influenced Jain's work and life. In line with this philosophy, her academic research has focused on issues of equity, democratic decentralization, people-centered development, and women's rights. She has worked for local, national, and international women's movements. She currently lives in Bangalore, India.

Jain has traveled extensively as a participant in many networks and forums. As Chair of the Advisory Committee on Gender for the United Nations Centre in Asia-Pacific, she has visited numerous countries, including most Pacific and Caribbean Island. In Africa, she has visited Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, Nigeria, Benin and Senegal, Liberia, Cote D’Ivoir, South Africa and Botswana. Along with Julius Nyerere, she had the privilege of meeting with and discussing the visions and concerns of African leaders. She is also a member of the erstwhile South Commission founded by Nyerere.

She was a member of the Advisory Panel set up by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to advise on the preparation of the 1997 Human Development Report on Poverty and for the 2002 Report on Governance. She was a member of the Eminent Persons Group of the Graça Machel Study Group appointed by the UN to study the Impact of Armed Conflict on Children.

In Women, Development, and the UN—A Sixty-Year Quest for Equality and Justice she shows how women's contributions have changed and shaped developments and practices at the UN. She introduces the term "feminization of poverty" from the feminist economist point of view. "‘Feminization of poverty,’" Jain explains, "was used to describe three distinct elements: that women have a higher incidence of poverty than men, that women’s poverty is more severe than that of men, that a trend toward greater poverty among women is associated with rising rates of female-headed households."(Jain 2005) According to her, "feminization of work" connotes low-quality, lowly-paid work. Jain argues that "feminization" devalues the increased presence of women.[4]

Academic life

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Devaki Jain was awarded a fellowship to the Scandinavian Institute for Asian Studies Copenhagen, in the year 1983 to lecture in 9 Universities in the Region on Gender & Poverty.[2] She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate (1999) from the University of Durban-Westville, Republic of South Africa. She also received the Bradford Morse Memorial Award (1995) from the UNDP at the Beijing World Conference. She was a visiting Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex (1993) and a Fulbright Senior Fellow affiliated both with Harvard University and Boston University (1984). She was also a Fellow at the Government of Karnataka's State Planning Board, a member of the UGC's Standing Committee on Women's Studies, and a member of the South Commission, when chaired by Julius Nyerere. In the academic year 2013–14, she was Plumer Visiting Fellow at her alma mater, St Anne's College, Oxford.

Personal life

She was married to the Gandhian economist Lakshmi Chand Jain from 1966 until his death in 2010. She has two children, including Sreenivasan Jain, the ex managing editor of NDTV.[5]

Selected bibliography

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Book chapters

Journal articles




She contributed the piece "A condition across caste and class" to the 1984 anthology Sisterhood Is Global: The International Women's Movement Anthology, edited by Robin Morgan.[9]

See also


  1. ^ Staff reporter (30 March 2006). "53 receive Padma awards from President". The Hindu. The Hindu Group.
  2. ^ a b[dead link]
  3. ^ a b "About Devaki Jain -". Retrieved 7 October 2022.
  4. ^ Jain, Devaki. 2005. Women, Development, and the UN – A Six-Year Quest for Equality and Justice Bloomington: Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-34697-5
  5. ^ Deepanjana Pal (10 October 2020). "Devaki, No plain Jain". The Hindustan Times. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  6. ^ Jain, Devaki (September 2018). Close Encounters of Another Kind . Women and Development Economics. SAGE Publisher India. ISBN 9789352807727.
  7. ^ Jain, Devaki (19 March 2018). The Journey of a Southern Feminist. SAGE Publisher India. ISBN 9789352806232.
  8. ^ Jain, Devaki (October 2020). The Brass Notebook: A Memoir. Speaking Tiger. ISBN 9789389958676. Archived from the original on 9 October 2020. Retrieved 7 October 2020.
  9. ^ "Table of Contents: Sisterhood is global". Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 15 October 2015.

Further reading