A new generation of women leaders has emerged across India.
The country has seen a dramatic rise in women in politics.
But for some, the most visible, powerful female leaders in the country are still the men in their families.
A woman who has made a difference has come to be known as the “first woman chief ministership”.
Read more The Indian Times spoke to three women who have taken charge of state-level governance and how their lives have changed in the past few years.
They told us about their journey, how they have achieved success, and why it is important to keep working towards equality.
We asked them if they were scared of what could happen if their family got hurt, how important it is for women to be empowered, and how they are trying to create a culture of equality in politics in India.
Women have been running for office since the 1950s, but this is the first time that they have come to the forefront and made it their priority to change the culture of patriarchy in the state.
They were shocked by the reaction from some women who were shocked at the idea of a woman running for the chief ministers post.
“I was quite surprised, because I thought that it would be a joke, and it wasn’t,” says Samantha, a 20-year-old law student from Kolkata who was one of the women who took charge of the state-level elections in 2014.
“This is the only time I am running for anything in the history of my country.
The women of the country have come forward to give me this opportunity.
This is my opportunity to give something back.
They have been asking for this, and now it’s finally here.”
Sandra, an independent student from Kerala, is the new chief minister of Karnataka state.
Read MoreIn the early days, she would take to social media to share her vision of the new women chief ministership.
She used to post on Facebook about the challenges women faced in India and share photos of herself working as a housekeeper in an old-age home.
“Now I am more confident to take the reins of government.
I have to take this responsibility with confidence,” she said.
The other two women, Jasika and Dina, had also been inspired by the successes of other female politicians in India like Indira Gandhi, Babulal Gaur, Sonia Gandhi, Sonia Bose, and M Venkaiah Naidu.
But as the women became leaders in their communities, they realised that there were some issues that were not being taken seriously, like rape and domestic violence.
When Jasika, who had served as an MP in the city of Goa, was approached to become a state government minister, she was determined to take a stand for the issues that affected her community.
She decided to take up the role, which she says she had no idea was possible, and to help empower women.
In the months following her election, she faced many questions from the women of her community, including, “Why are you not taking action on these issues?”
“There was a lot of pressure from the community to go forward.
But we didn’t think that we would actually be able to,” she says.
Dina, a 25-year old law student who was also part of the Women for Women’s Action Group in Goa in 2014, was also inspired by Indira and Sonia Gandhi.
“I decided to go to the government for a few days to see if I could change the situation, and that’s when we came up with the idea for this,” she recalls.
Today, Dinas role is the chief minister of Kerala.
On her day off, she will work as a secretary to a local government, and she will also be part of the Women for Gender Equity Network (WFEN), an organisation that aims to empower women to speak out against gender violence and gender inequality.
Indira Gandhi’s dream of having 100 million women leaders by 2030 was achieved, but women remained under-represented in politics because of the lack of female leadership.
This led to a massive gap in representation between the women in power and the women on the ground, said Sasha, another student from Goa.
Sushma, the 26-year woman from Goan state who is now the governor of the state, is also a pioneer of women leadership in her state.
“Women leaders are always the ones who get a lot more support.
When they have the opportunity to become chief ministers, they have to give their votes to them,” she tells The Hindu.
Despite the high visibility of women in politics, they are still rarely elected as chief ministers.
They are often not even allowed to run for office.
India’s Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee, has repeatedly criticised women for being sidelined