HER voice in politics has been muffled and unclear for centuries throughout the world. In India, interestingly, she has been louder and far more influential right from the days the nation was struggling to free itself from the clutches of a foreign power. She was not just making her presence felt in positions of leadership in the freedom struggle but was also effectively capturing moments of nationalist expressions on the streets, villages, universities and domestic spheres. The role of women in Indian politics has, for long been celebrated as one of the finest examples of the success of the long drawn feminist movement. While leaders like Sarojini Naidu and Aruna Asaf Ali shaped the nationalist movement in their own specific ways, there were others like Dakshayani Velayudhan and Rajkumari Amrit Kaur who played a decisive role in the framing of the newborn country’s constitution. While in Indira Gandhi, we saw a steely prime minister, the position of the country’s president was adorned by Pratibha Patil a few decades later. In the seventy years of independent India, we have been fortunate to witness the rise, fall and further rise of various prominent women political leaders.
About two months back, we at Indianexpress.com ran a detailed series on those women who shaped and breathed life into the Indian constitution. On occasion of women’s day, we carry forward this journey of exploring the multitude ways in which women have influenced and risen to power in the Indian political landscape through sheer determination of spirit. We photographed 12 women who are currently part of the Indian Parliament, which currently has the highest number of women Parliamentarians, albeit even that number isn't that much. But then, we also have India's first ever woman full Defence Minister leading the charge. (Source: Express Photo by Renuka Puri)