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Naima Khatoon Breaks Glass Ceiling, Becomes First Woman Vice-Chancellor of AMU

In a historic move, President Droupadi Murmu has appointed Professor Naima Khatoon as the first woman Vice-Chancellor of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), breaking a century-old glass ceiling. The appointment, seen as part of the BJP government’s outreach to Muslim women, comes days ahead of the second phase of the Lok Sabha election.

Significance of the Appointment

The timing of the appointment is noteworthy, as the AMU Vice-Chancellor holds an important position in the Muslim community, both in India and abroad. Khatoon’s appointment is being viewed as a message to the Muslim world, showcasing the government’s commitment to inclusive leadership.

Breaking Barriers

Although the university’s founding chancellor was Sultan Jahan, the Begum of Bhopal, and at least three AMU alumnae have gone on to helm prestigious universities, it took more than 100 years for the university court to propose the name of a deserving woman from a modest family in Odisha’s Jajpur district. Old-timers suggest that certain customs and the residential nature of the university might have prevented a woman from attaining the top post earlier.

A Remarkable Journey

Naima Khatoon’s journey to the Vice-Chancellorship is a testament to her academic excellence and perseverance. After completing her high school in Odisha, she came to Aligarh in 1977, a rare occurrence for an Odia girl at the time. A meritorious student, she completed her PhD in psychology from AMU and was appointed a lecturer in the same department in 1988. She rose through the ranks, becoming a professor in 2006 and later serving as the principal of the Women’s College in 2014.

Challenges and Expectations

Khatoon’s appointment comes at a crucial time, as the university did not have a full-time Vice-Chancellor since April 2023, when her predecessor Tariq Mansoor’s term ended. Different stakeholders on the campus are eager for the new Vice-Chancellor to put an end to the culture of ad-hocism and focus on research and the development of education at the university.

The Aligarh Muslim Teachers’ Association (AMUTA), which had earlier questioned the selection process, has acknowledged Khatoon’s appointment and expressed hope that she will be fair, transparent, and impartial. The association has pledged to continue its role as a “loyal watchdog” of the institution.

Paving the Way for Future Generations

Naima Khatoon’s appointment as the first woman Vice-Chancellor of AMU is a significant milestone in the university’s history and a testament to the progress being made toward gender equality in leadership roles. Her appointment is expected to pave the way for future generations of women to aspire to and achieve leadership positions in academia and beyond.

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