The Women’s Health and Action Research Centre was set up in January 1993 on the initiative of a Biomedical Scientist and Social Science Researcher at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile Ife, Nigeria. At that time it was named Women’s Health and Action Research Unit (WHARU) and it was located within the Collage of Health Sciences in the Department of Obstetrics and gynaecology of the University, as that Department had already hosted a number of women–focused research projects and WHARC was expected to provide the required integrative focus. Although the Unit used some of the facilities of OAU, its administrative structure was completely independent of OAU and no financial subventions were made to it by the University or the Nigerian Government. The Unit was funded with subventions paid by interested individuals who comprised the Unit (mainly University based medical and social science researchers) and over heads from the funded studies in the Unit.
Later, a proposal to transform WHARU into an independent non-governmental research Centre was accepted for funding by the Ford Foundation. Consequently, WHARU was renamed Women’s Health and Action Research Centre (WHARC) and funds were provided by the Ford Foundation for the take-off Staff and programmes of the Centre for the first two years.
The Centre is registered with the Nigerian Corporate Affairs commission (CAC) as a non-governmental, non profit making organization with its headquarters in Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria. The Centre began to function in its new format in February 1996. The main purpose for setting up the Centre is to provide a base for academic research and interventions that seek to promote women’s health and wellbeing from an interdisciplinary team of researchers and to address issues relating to women’s reproductive health.