Women Have Held Key Posts Even Before Prez Murmu, but Only Far & Few in Between

Here's a list of the tallest women politicians in India's politics.

2 min read

Video Editor: Rahul Sanpui

(This article was first published on 25 July 2022. It has been reposted from The Quint's archives over Union Cabinet clearing the Women's Reservation Bill, during the ongoing Special Session of the Parliament.)

Droupadi Murmu has become only the second woman president of India after Pratibha Patil. As she takes oath on 25 July, here's a reminder that although women have played an active role in India's politics through the ages, their representation in Parliament remains dismal.

The Women Reservation Bill, which seeks to reserve 33 percent seats for women in Parliament and state legislatures, was passed in the Rajya Sabha in 2010. However, it's still pending.

In the World Economic Forum's Gender Gap Report 2022, India ranked 135 out of 146 countries overall, but in the political empowerment score, it was ranked lower than last year.


In 75 years since independence, only a handful of women have held key political posts and completed a five-year term or more. They included:

  • Indira Gandhi – India's only woman prime minister

  • Pratibha Patil – India’s first woman president

  • Shashikala Kakodar – First and only woman CM of Goa

  • J Jayalalithaa – Youngest woman CM of Tamil Nadu

  • Mayawati – First and only Dalit woman CM of India

  • Rabri Devi – First and only woman CM of Bihar

  • Sheila Dikshit – The longest-serving CM of Delhi with three consecutive wins

  • Vasundhara Raje Scindia – First and only woman CM of Rajasthan

  • Mamata Banerjee – First and only woman CM of West Bengal

Out of the 11 women in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's council of ministers right now, only two women have Cabinet ranks – Nirmala Sitharaman and Smriti Zubin Irani.

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Topics:  Indira Gandhi   Jayalalithaa   Indian women 

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