India is not good to its women. So why are female politicians so powerful?

 many measures, India is a tough place to be a woman.

It ranks 108 out of 149 countries in gender equality, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap report. Its female workforce participation isn’t just low at 28.9%, it’s also declining. And its gender ratio is skewed towards males, because of female infanticide and selective abortions.

Yet, before prime minister Narendra Modi became India’s favourite strongman, only one leader had ever managed the same kind of power and charisma: Indira Gandhi, the former prime minister and standard of comparison for all leaders in the country. She isn’t alone: India’s political history counts several powerful women, and two female heads of state (Gandhi, and former president Pratibha Devisingh Patil). That’s two more women holding the country’s highest positions of power than in the United States.

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