Monday, July 23, 2007

This is one small step for a woman, one giant leap for womankind.

India beat us to it. On Saturday, Indian legislators elected it's first-ever female president; Pratibha Patil. As America waits to see if Hilary Clinton will become the first female president of the U.S., India will have Patil sworn in on Wednesday. In India the role of 'president' is pretty much a ceremonial post. But that didn't make a difference to the women who showed up outside her home to set off fireworks and beat drums when the news got out. While only 68% (Outlook magazine) of women approve of her presidency, none are complaining at the impact it will make for them. There has been a few Indian women of power (Indira Gandhi was Prime Minister in 1966), but overall, fewer than 10% of politicians in the lower house of Parliament (Lok Sabha) are women.

In India, girls are seen as burdens because families will eventually have to pay a very large dowry to the groom's family. As a result the girls are not well educated and they don't get proper medical care when they're sick. An international group estimated that as many as 10 million female fetuses have been aborted in the country over the last two decades!

So far, many countries have had women in powerful political roles. (To see a list click here.) Whether the title is president or prime minister, the United States is certainly behind. For now, until, perhaps, in 2008, we can only watch as India joins the growing number of countries with female presidents.

For an article about Pratibha Patil click here.

Pratibha Patil:

  • Born December 19, 1934
  • Deputy minister for education in 1967
  • A full cabinet minister for the state in 1972-1978
  • Elected to the Rajya Sabha as a Congress candidate in 1985
  • Most recently a governor the northern state of Rajasthan

Check out Natalia's post on Pratibha Patil.

Peace, friends.


Anonymous said...

Please God, don't let Hilary Clinton be our first woman president. I'd rather see a better woman be our president

Anonymous said...

awesome!!! i'm so happy for her

Icarus said...

Only humans can bicker over a ceremonial position. Utility has little place in our lives. Concepts of honour, prestige, respect play larger roles. We rush to append titles to our names. In hope to be larger than what we really are. Minuscule living organisms on a small planet in an obscure part of the universe.

So now after a prolonged mudslinging India has a new President. The new one's old and servile, (is that the right word?) and female. A feat of unimaginable proportions. A female president. A female occupying one of most extravagant ceremonious posts in a poor country. A achievement people would say. But i beg to differ. I say we have already been doing this for centuries.

Glorify women but oppress them. Worship female goddess but exploit the real ones. Women have always held ceremonial positions in our society. We have just continued the tradition.On a larger scale. This is India as we know it best.