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Sonia Gandhi

Woman comprise half of Indian voters, but remain marginalized despite formidable women leaders

Trudging home after a long day harvesting wheat, Veena Devi has little time for the political workers swarming her northern Indian village seeking votes for their candidates."They come to us each time promising piped water, public toilets and factory jobs. But these political leaders will disappear after they win," said the gray-haired Devi, sitting outside her thatched-roof hut in Sarai, a village just outside the Hindu holy city of Varanasi.Women form more than 49 percent of India's 814 million voters, but many of them, especially in rural India, feel their concerns are not taken seriously by political parties, and that they take a back seat to men in everything from health care to education to legal protection.Nearly seven decades after independence from Britain in 1947, India has had many formidable female leaders. The best known, Indira Gandhi, was prime minister for 15 years. The current leader of the ruling Congress party, Sonia Gandhi, is the widow of Indira's son, former prime...

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