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Thursday, June 04, 2009

After Pakistan Indian Woman Bags Speaker’s Job Too

India’s list of top women politicians grew Wednesday after the country’s Parliament elected Meira Kumar as the speaker of its powerful lower house. Kumar, a former career diplomat, will now be in the august company of Sonia Gandhi, India’s most powerful politician and leader of the ruling Congress party; Pratibha Patil, India’s President; Mayawati, chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, the country’s most populous state; and Sheila Dixit, chief minister of the state of Delhi which houses the national capital. "What we are seeing is better acceptability of women in top political situations," said Ranjana Kumari, president of Women Power Connect, an influential grouping of some 700 women’s organisations and individuals. Kumari told IPS that the election of Kumar as speaker of the Lok Sabha - the law-making lower house of Parliament - is crucial at a time when serious social issues concerning women such as female foeticide, domestic violence and dowry deaths dogged the country. "Most importantly," Kumari said, "the women’s bill [to reserve 33 percent of seats in Parliament and state assemblies for women] which has been hanging since 1997, thanks to opposition mounted by male legislators, now has a chance of being passed."


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