Woman in library holding a book
The Newton-Bhabha partnership's Women in Science programme is empowering women in the science and public policymaking sector in India. ©

Mat Wright

A Women in Science initiative under the Newton-Bhabha partnership - delivered by the British Council India with the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research in Pune - is empowering women working in the science and technology sector in India. 

Read how this group of dynamic workshop delegates have joined forces to help shape national approaches to public policymaking in science and technology.


Public policy in the realm of science and technology through participatory stakeholder consultation is an underdeveloped field in many countries globally. 

Policymakers and communities can often face barriers to open dialogue and mutual understanding around key areas such as infrastructure, housing, agriculture, water and energy – which can lead to poor acceptance and implementation of systems.

Moreover, the needs of communities are often not effectively communicated to and understood by those working in the science and technology sector, resulting in missed opportunities and systems that fail to address societal concerns.


For the development of public policy in science and technology, it is crucial that all stakeholders are consulted – including women and those from underrepresented groups – in order to develop innovative and implementable policy that will prove beneficial to society.

The Newton-Bhabha partnership’s Women in Science programme was conceived to provide opportunities for diverse expertise in allied science careers to ease the transition of women in science in India.

The programme’s vision is to contribute towards the development of best practice: for public policy be well-evidenced and based on the foundation of science, informed from all relevant perspectives, well-worded and communicated, and for the process of policy making to build momentum for implementation and real change.


The Women in Science programme was developed to devise and deliver a series of thematic workshops in emerging domains like science administration and management, as well as science journalism.

Through this initiative, a workshop on best practice in evidence-based policymaking was developed and delivered in New Delhi in 2019 – a project that was supported by the Newton-Bhabha partnership between the British Council India and the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Pune.

In this workshop a UK-based agency, Dialogue Matters, worked with 53 delegates comprising of mid-career women and men from Indian central government, as well as science policy professionals from academia and civil society, to deliver training on the key skills and techniques for participatory and well-informed decision-making.

The workshop also featured a showcase event, Science Policy Conclave, which was attended by some of India’s key science policymakers and influencers, who also promote the participation of women in science and innovation policymaking in India.


In the immediate term, the workshop delegates were empowered to formalise their group and to create a vision for themselves - with ideas for action and a plan for action. The group continued the discussion through the creation of its own Community of Practice to share knowledge and experience.

A workshop participant, Dr Laxmi Ganesan from IndiaBioscience, Bangalore along with two more collaborators from the network went on to form the Science Policy Forum - an open independent collaborative platform that is facilitating stakeholder engagement in India’s Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (STIP). Science Policy Form was later selected as an official partner to India’s Department for Science and Technology to continue facilitating stakeholder engagement.

The forum launched its first event in June 2020 - attended by senior leadership of India’s Ministry of Science and Technology - followed by a successful virtual public consultation on theme of Governance and System Interconnectedness.

Delegates meet online at the Science Technology and Innovation 2020 Townhall.

Mutual benefit

Currently, Science Policy Forum type model is functional in India’s Department of Science and Technology (DST), but is scalable and applicable to other Indian central government ministries, especially where policy often deals with the interface of science with environment and climate, directly impacting citizens.

Science policy training and a virtual dialogue platform like the Science Policy Forum can enable direct dialogues between the policy makers, experts and those stakeholders who get most impacted by that policy.

Other developing democracies in the Global South that share similar development paradox can also benefit from such training and subsequent participatory dialogue forums.

The UK-based agency who delivered the training, Dialogue Matters, won a global bid for this project, giving them the opportunity to reach and work with stakeholders in this sphere in India.

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