India: First female President - Pratibha Patil
Born in 1934 in India's western state of Maharashtra, Mrs Patil has had a long and largely low-key political career. A lawyer by training, she joined Congress in the early 1960s before spending some two decades in Maharashtra's state legislature.
Next she moved into national politics, sitting in both the lower and upper chambers of India's national parliament before leaving the political stage in the late 1990s. Her appointment as governor of Rajasthan in 2004 saw her become the first woman governor in the north-western state. But decades of apparently unswerving loyalty to Congress - and, more specifically, to the Gandhis - assured Mrs Patil of a hostile reception from some quarters on her return to the national stage.
She came in for heavy criticism from opposition figures and in the Indian media after emerging as a candidate for president. Some criticised Mrs Patil's character; others highlighted her time away from high-level politics. The BJP attempted to portray her as unsuitable for the post of president, revealing that police were investigating both her husband and her brother in connection with the (unrelated) deaths of a teacher and a party worker. Media reports focused on some of her public statements, including a 1975 suggestion that people with hereditary diseases should be sterilised.
But the reports were dismissed as "mud-slinging", and as the vote approached Mrs Patil stridently rejected the criticism, insisting all accusations against her were politically-motivated. Instead her supporters suggested Mrs Patil's election would prove to be a landmark for women in a country where millions routinely face violence, discrimination and poverty.
21 July 2007
- Pakistan's once-ridiculed transgender community fight elections for first time
- Death of Justice Verma, the judge who helped toughen up Rape Laws in India
- Senegal: WELDD West Africa Feminist Leadership Workshop
- Kuwait: Female Arab scientists urge defence of women's rights
- Gulf Women - Essays Collection
- VNC Statement: The Vatican's Crackdown Against the Nuns Is Unacceptable and Deplorable
- Iran: WLUML Supports Call for Solidarity: Freedom and Gender Equality in Iran
- India: Violent attacks and cases of moral policing in Karnataka
- Bougainville: Women's Minister fired for speaking out against mining company
- UPDATE: UN: Act now for UN reform and gender equality
- Gender-Sensitive Indicators for Media: Indicators to Gauge Gender Sensitivity in Media Operations and Content
- Across the World: A Girl’s Right to Learn Without Fear
- Afghan Women: Towards Bonn and Beyond
- Great Ancestors: Women Claiming Rights in Muslim Contexts
- Mapping of resources for women human rights defenders