MASUM was co-founded by Dr. Manisha Gupte and Dr. Ramesh Awasthi in 1987 during their five year stay in the drought-prone Purandar block of Pune district. It evolved out of a commitment to women’s rights within and outside the home, working with a feminist perspective and a human rights approach. MASUM’s primary belief is that people can resolve their own problems collectively with some amount of external support; thus, rather than create dependence on itself, MASUM focused on strengthening people’s perspectives on democracy, equality, secularism and social justice. In order to emphasise people’s participation in decision-making at every level, the staff is mostly local, especially women from marginalised sections of rural society. Leadership building from subordinated groups since its inception helped to build a strong second line leadership; thereby MASUM meticulously avoided the pitfall of founders handing over the organisation to their children or family members.