March 8 has been celebrated as International Women’s Day since 1914 to mark the day Sylvia Pankhurst, a British socialist feminist, was arrested in London to stop her speaking for women’s suffrage. A century later, most of the world has achieved universal adult suffrage, but equivalent progress in women’s leadership is lacking.
According to the Women in Politics Map 2015, only 17.7% of the world’s ministers are women. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s words on Sunday struck the right chord—a need to move from “women’s development to women-led development”. Currently, only 12% of Indian legislators are women. The Women’s Reservation Bill—if it is ever passed—can help. But for true parity, each woman restricted by her household must ask the question Betty Friedan asked in her book The Feminine Mystique—“Is this all?” India has a long way to go before that socio-cultural critical mass is achieved.