Women were bounded in our country. They were not allowed to go out, to study. But then also there were some leaders who struggled and as results they were ruling the era. These women opened their veil and fought from outer world and now they are counted in powerful leaders:
Rajkumari Amrit Kaur (1889-1964)
She belonged to a Royal Family despite having all the luxuries a royal title can offer, Rajkumari Amrit Kaur was not a complacent woman. She was a freedom fighter and an ardent supporter of women’s rights. She co-founded the All India Women’s Conference in 1927 and became president of the organization in 1933. She was one of the first to speak out against child marriage and the purdah system for women.
She became the first woman to hold Cabinet rank in India when she took charge of the Ministry of Health during Nehru’s tenure. She was also one of two Indian Christians in the Cabinet. In 1950, she was elected as the president of the World Health Assembly, the first woman to hold this position. She molded a path for many other women to excel in this field.
Indira Gandhi (1917-1984)
This list would be incomplete without having India’s first, and only, female prime minister. As controversial her actions and stances may have been, there is no denying the impact she left on Indian politics. Her role stands out during the Bangladesh Liberation War and the Emergency, as does her decisiveness during Operation Blue Star. Going from the position of Silent Doll to leader of parliament is a remarkable path and one that is inspirational for all.
In 1999, Indira Gandhi was named “Woman of the Millennium” in an online poll organized by the BBC.
Sushma Swaraj(b. 1952)
An Indian politician, former Supreme Court lawyer and the current minister of External Affairs of India, Sushma Swaraj has held many positions of high acclaim. She has many firsts to her credit: BJPs first female chief minister, Union Cabinet minister, general secretary, spokesperson, leader of Opposition and minister of External Affairs. She is the Indian Parliament’s first and only female MP honoured with the Outstanding Parliamentarian Award. Moreover, being the youngest Indian cabinet minister, at the age of 25, she remains an inspiration for all young female aspirants in the field of politics.
She was called India’s “best-loved politician” by the Wall Street Journal.
Irom Chanu Sharmila (b. 1972)
Irom Sharmila is a civil rights activist, political activist, and poet. From very early on in her life, she was involved in local peace movements against human right abuses in Manipur. However, after the atrocious Malom Massacre (November 2000) which brought to the forefront the unchecked power of the Indian Paramilitary Forces in the state, she began a sixteen-year hunger strike which she ended in August 2016. For this great resilience, she has been called the world’s “longest hunger striker.” She is also known as the ‘Iron Lady’
She has been instrumental in leading the fight against repealing the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which would curb the power and corruption of the armed forces. Despite facing several hurdles, such as being placed in judicial custody and strike-related health issues, her strength and her dedication cuts across like a flame, making the world a safer place.
On International Women’s Day (2014), she was voted the top woman icon of India by MSN Poll.
Jayaram Jayalalithaa (1948-2016)
There are many actors and actresses who have joined politics but Jayalalithaa had a great influence in politics. Jayalalithaa was an Indian actress and politician who served six terms as the chief minister of Tamil Nadu for over fourteen years between 1991 and 2016. As the general secretary of the AIADMK, she was known for fostering a cult personality of ‘Amma’ amongst her followers.
As the chief minister of Tamil Nadu, she was known for her work ethic and centralizing state power amongst a syndicate of ministers. In terms of policies, she was known for the successful cradle-baby scheme, which enabled mothers to anonymously offer their newborns for adoption. In 2011, her government received attention for its extensive social welfare agenda, which included several subsidized ‘Amma’-branded goods such as canteens, bottled water, and salt. The biggest indicator of the impact that she has left on the Indian political structure was the headlines that emerged when news spread of her cardiac arrest–it was as if this vacuum had emerged and Indian politics seem to have halted
The Correspondent Bureau