Women leaders in politics are progressively increasing in the modern era. Though they were under represented in many countries, there have been a growth in the participation of women in politics.
Today, women occupy around 22.1% of all parliamentary seats worldwide, almost double of 11.3 percent in 1995. India too has seen progress in women participation in politics with some of them emerging has powerful political leaders.
Here is a look into the top women in Indian politics who hold key constitutional posts.
Sushma Swaraj: A highly experienced politicians and the current minister of External Affairs of India, Sushma Swaraj has been elected seven times as a Member of Parliament and three times as a Member of the Legislative Assembly. After Indira Gandhi, she is the second woman to be India’s External Affairs minister.
Swaraj was Haryana’s youngest cabinet minister at the age of 25. Apart from this, she has also served as the Chief Minister of Delhi for a short span of time.
The founder of All India Trinamool Congress, Mamta Banerjee, popularly known as ‘Didi’ has been the Chief Minister of West Bengal since 2011. She was the first woman to hold the office in the state. The TMC chief has also served as the Union Minister of Railway twice being the first ever woman to hold that post. Apart from these, she has also been the Minister of Coal, Minister of State for Human Resource Development and has occupied Department of Youth Affairs and Sports and Women and Child Development too. Time Magazine, in 2012 named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world while in the same year, Bloomberg magazine named her among the 50 most influential people in the finance world.
Former national spokesperson of the BJP, Niramala Sitharaman is presently handling the Minister of State for Commerce and Industry as well as Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs at the Centre. She is a former member of the National Commission for Women. She has done Ph.D in Indo-European textile trade within the GATT framework and has also been an employee of Pricewaterhouse Coopers and BBC world service later.
Sumitra Mahajan: Sumitra Mahajan is the current speaker of the Lok Sabha. She occupied the portfolio of Human Resource, Communication and Petroleum at the Centre from 2002 to 2004. Having won the Lok Sabha election for the eighth time, she became the eldest and senior most member among all the the woman members of parliament. She is the second woman speaker of parliament after Meira Kumar.
Smriti Irani: Former television actress Smriti Irani is the Union Minister of Human Resource Development. Though she lost in the Lok Sabha election 2014 against Rahul Gandhi, she had been a strong representative of the BJP since 2003. Irani was one the finalist of the beauty pageant Miss India 1998.She has served as the vice president of the Maharashtra Youth Wing and also as the National Secretary of the BJP. Despite being an actress she has successfully established her identity in politics.
Vasundhara Raje: The first woman Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Vasundhara Raje has been holding that post since 2013. The same post was served by her from 2003 to 2008. She was a student of economics and political science.
Uma Bharti: She is the current Minister of Water Resources in the NDA government. Bharti has participated in the movement of Ramjanma Bhumi which was initiated by the Sangh Parivar. Previously, she held the portfolios like Tourism, Youth Affairs and Sports, Human Resource Development and Coal and Mine as well. Occasionally, she is called as ‘Sadhvi’.
Maneka Gandhi : Animal rights activist Menaka Gandhi is the Union Minister of Women and Child Development. She is the wife of late Sanjay Gandhi, a politician and the son of former prime minister Indira Gandhi. Being an author, she has written several books in the areas of animal welfare and law.
(Continue to next page)