Dhondo Keshav Karve established an ashram for widows and helpless women at Hingne near Pune in 1896.
Karve launched a programme of schooling there, which latter became a regular school for girls and women.
He had a dream of establishing a women’s university.
In December 1915 Karve, in his presidential address to the National Social Reform Congress in Bombay, announced his decision to shape his dream into reality.
On 2 July 1916 the first college started with the enrollment of five students; it gradually took shape as a women’s university.
The vision of Maharashi Karve and the foresight of Sir Vithaldas Thackersey led to the establishment of the first women’s university in India.
Recognizing the pioneering work of Karve, Vithaldas Thackersey made a generous contribution of Rs. 15 lakh to commemorate the memory of his mother, Nathibai.
In 1920 the university was named Shreemati Nathibai Damodar Thackersey Women’s University.
In 1936, the headquarters was shifted to Bombay.
In 1951, the university was granted statutory recognition and was renamed as Shrimati Nathibai Thackersey Women’s University now popularly known as SNDT Women’s University.