Genesis

At the time of Independence the Navy wives were a part of Armed Forces Women’s Welfare Organization, a combined body of Defence wives mainly operating from Delhi with each service holding the president-ship by turn – a legacy from colonial times. The charter of duties of this Organization included visiting hospitals, taking care of widows, rolling bandages, attending signals and plotting classes. Although the work was challenging and generated a lot of enthusiasm amongst the ladies, it did not provide for interaction with the community at the grass-root level.

Naval Officers Wives Association (NOWA)

The seed of Navy Wives Organization was sown in Mumbai in 1948 when Mrs Manek Soman, invited some ladies and proposed formation of an organized welfare body to help sailors and their families who were struggling with diverse problems in the post independence era. Mrs Betty David was elected President of this informal set up at the first meeting of the members in the Naval Officers Mess, Vasant Sagar, Mumbai. The formation of Naval Officers Wives Association (NOWA), in 1949 under the leadership of Lady Parry, was therefore a natural evolutionary process. A constitution was drafted and the Association got off to a start at Delhi, Bombay, Cochin, Visakhapatnam and Jamnagar.

Navy Wives Welfare Association (NWWA)

The Association continued to grow and evolve ever since with increasing involvement and influence over issues of community needs. Many of the loan schemes prevalent in service today can be traced back to NOWA. The first family clinics opened as NOWA Clinics. KG schools have been NOWA/NWWA 'babies', as are today’s play schools ‘Little Angels’. Plans for the care of the Navy widows and challenged children have all sprung from sensitive and caring women. In the year 1985, Mrs Meera Tahiliani, the then President, took the initiative and set in motion, events which led to the change over from NOWA to Navy Wives Welfare Association (NWWA). The evolution from NOWA to NWWA marked a significant stage in the process of democratization of the Association. Sailors' wives were integrated with equal rights of membership.

New Organization – a metamorphosis

The new organization consequently began to exert its own pressures leading to better appreciation of community needs. This led to the second major development, which was initiated in 1991, by Mrs Lalita Ramdas, when the organization became truly professional with multifaceted welfare and development programmes. The new organization of the Association has now been in place for many years meeting community needs directly through its programmes and projecting larger issues to the Navy for necessary action as an authentic opinion survey agency. Mrs Binu Shekhawat, who took over from Mrs Ramdas, provided the needed steadying hand consolidating the rapid progress. She worked tirelessly to democratize NWWA in spirit removing rank consciousness. During her stewardship the Regions (Commands) were given greater autonomy and NWWA Units were set free to devise their own programmes to suit local needs within the extensive NWWA charter. In 2000, Northern Region was merged with NWWA Central and the post of President-in-Chief was renamed as President NWWA. President NWWA (NR) was made the Vice-President, NWWA.