Women Leaders


Anita Anand
Anita Anand is the director of the Women's Feature Service (WFS), a non-profit audio-visual syndicated news and feature service based in New Delhi. It has more than 60 correspondents in Africa, Asia, Latin and North America

WFS specializes in women's issues, notably the criminalization and other forms of violence against women such as dowry murders and sexual harassment. Ms. Anand calls the media a microcosmic mirror of how women continue to be sidelined.

Anita Anand
Address to the Workshop on Mass Media and Crime Prevention Crimes Aainst Women Anita Anand, India

Shabana Azmi
Ms. Azmi is an elected member of the Indian Parliament in Rajya Sabha (House of the States). She is also a well-known, award-winning actress and political activist. Her regular presence in new wave films has made her the most prominent star spawned by the New Indian Cinema. As an activist, she is associated with the Nivara Hakk Samrakshan Samiti, fighting the cause of Mumbai's slum and pavement dwellers, and with various anti-communal organizations, playing an effective, high-profile role such as in the 1993 communal riots in Bombay.

India Times
Indian Celebrities
Shabana Azmi, Goodwill Ambassador for India

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Kiran Bedi
The first woman Police Inspector-General of India. She broke new ground by joining the elite Indian Police Service in 1972, the first woman in India to do so. She is today the most celebrated police officer, having been awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award for government service, also called the Asian Nobel Prize, the Joseph Beuys Award by a German foundation and the Asia Region Award for Drug Prevention & Control by the International Organization of Good Templars (IOGT) a Norwegian organization.

Besides her professional contributions, two voluntary organizations founded and supervised by her — Navjyoti, set up in 1988 and India Vision Foundation in 1994, reach out to thousands of poor children daily for primary education; women for adult literacy; provide vocational training and counseling services in the slums, rural areas and inside the prison apart from treatment for drug addiction. She and her organizations today stand nationally and internationally recognized, with the latest award being given by the United Nations — the Serge Sotiroff Memorial Award for drug abuse prevention.

More about Kiran Bedi on:
Kiran Bedi: official website
India's first female police officer
Kiran Bedi - an extraordinary woman

Phoolan Devi
Member of Parliament and was notoriously known in India as the Bandit Queen. Revered and respected or hated and feared, people's perceptions of Phoolan Devi vary. A fisherfolk's daughter, some see her as a victim of India's oppressive caste structure, while many see her as a modern-day female Robin Hood and heroine of the masses who took revenge on 22 upper caste Thakurs, who had subjected her to gang rape, by killing them in 1981. She surrendered to the police in 1984 and served time till 1994. She was elected to the Parliament's lower house in 1996.

The legendary 'Bandit Queen' was gunned down by three masked men outside her official residence in New Delhi on July 25, 2001. Her tumultuous life inspired Shekhar Kapur's Oscar nominated movie titled Bandit Queen in 1994.

More about Phoolan Devi on:
Phoolan Devi links
Caste as woman: izzat and larai* in Northern India

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Indira Gandhi
Indira Gandhi was the first women Prime Minister of India and an important world stateswoman. She was born in Allahabad, in the state of Uttar Pradesh. She was the only child of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India. She was a great crusader of world peace.

Indira Gandhi became the third Prime Minister of India on January 24,1966 and remained in this post up to 1977. In 1975, her election to Parliament was declared invalid and she declared internal emergency, which led to her defeat in 1977 elections. Indira Gandhi returned to power in 1980 with an overwhelming majority.

Mrs. Gandhi, met her tragic end on 31st October 1984, when she was brutally assassinated by her own guards.

Read more about Indira Gandhi on:
Indira Gandhi
About Indira Gandhi

Maneka Gandhi
Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment (as of January 2001), Maneka Gandhi is the daughter-in-law of Indira Gandhi. She was elected into the Lok Sabha (Lower House) in 1998. A dedicated animal rights activist and environmentalist, she is a founder member of People for Animals and chairperson of the Delhi Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

The other Mrs. Gandhi
Profile of Maneka Gandhi

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Priyanka Gandhi
The striking 26-year old daughter of former prime minister Rajiv and Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi, has so far shunned an official role in the Congress Party. But she pointedly retained the Gandhi family name after her marriage to Robert Vadra, a jewellery designer and exporter. Rumor has it that she will be joining the Youth Congress, and probably will become its leader. She campaigned for her mother in the September 1999 elections and almost stole the limelight from her.

More on Priyanka on Priyanka's website.

Sonia Gandhi
President of India's century-old Congress party. Being the third woman of foreign origin to hold the prestigious post after Annie Beasant and Nelli Sengupta, Sonia Gandhi also became the fifth from the Nehru family to take over the Congress reins. The other four were Motilal Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, her slain husband. Though she was born in Italy, Sonia Gandhi has emerged as the most potent political force in India’s elections. Almost single-handedly, she has revitalized the Congress Party, winning back much of its traditional political base of minorities and the poor.

More about Sonia Gandhi on:
Sonia Gandhi
Official Website

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Mrinal Gore
Known as a political reformer, Mrnal Gore was a member of the Bombay Municipal Corporation. As a politician, she constantly brought into focus the woes of the common woman, earning the admiration of the masses. For her vociferous protests against water shortages in the city she was called Mumbai's 'Paaniwali Bai'. She had won the election with the largest margin of votes ever in Maharashtra.

Indira Jaising
The most prominent woman lawyer in India, Indira Jaising has handled the Roopan Deol Bajaj and the Bhopal disaster case, among others. She takes a special interest in cases related to injustice toward women. Her motto is "Women's Rights are Human Rights". She was the one who started the campaign for women's legal rights years ago. Over the years she has fought against child labor, for the economic rights of women and estranged wives.

Prominent Indians

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Jayalalitha Jayaraman
Former Chief Minister of the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Before entering politics Ms. Jayalalitha is a popular film star. A devoted follower of MG Ramachandran, the legendary Tamil Nadu actor and politician, she was included in his Cabinet over the opposition of other longtime party members. After his death in 1988, she consolidated her power independently, becoming party leader of the AIADMK. She was jailed on corruption charges after her stint as Chief Minister. She continues to be the leader of Tamil Nadu politics especially since she established new alliance with the ruling BJP.

Vipula Kadri
She is a renowned Social Worker and founder of PRIDE INDIA, SAVE THE CHILDREN and WISE. Under her leadership, these organizations have been helping to improve the quality of life of underprivileged children & women. Ms. Kadri is also the director of Rural Hospital "SPARSH" at Sastur, Osmanabad district - where the devastated earthquake took place in 1993- which was initiated, completed and is now being run by PRIDE INDIA & SAVE THE CHILDREN jointly. Her work experience also includes the task of rescuing and rehabilitating young victims of sexual exploitation in India & Nepal and Aids Awareness. She is a member of Maharashtra State Social Welfare Board.

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Medha Patkar
Medha Patkar has been a central organizer and strategist of Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), a people's movement organized to stop the construction of a series of dams planned for India's largest westward flowing river, the Narmada. The World Bank-financed Sardar Sarovar Dam is the keystone of the Narmada Valley Development Project, one of the world's largest river development projects. Upon completion, Sardar Sarovar would submerge more than 37,000 hectares of forest and agricultural land and displace some 320,000 villagers, mostly from tribal communities.

In 1985 Patkar began mobilizing massive marches and rallies against the project, and, although the protests were peaceful, she was repeatedly beaten and arrested by the police. She almost died during a 22-day hunger strike in 1991. Undaunted, she undertook two more long protest fasts in 1993 and 1994. She and her organization later filed a case to the Indian Supreme Court to stop the construction of the dam.

As an outgrowth of her work to stop dam construction, Patkar has helped establish a network of activists across the country - the National Alliance of People's Movements. In 1992, she was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize, the world's largest prize program honoring grassroots environmentalists.

Source: Goldman Award: Medha Patkar

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Dated: 16Oct2002