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 College 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.