India chooses its first female president

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July 22, 2007 06:55

 
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India chose its first female president in an election hailed as a victory for women in a country where gender discrimination is deep-rooted and widespread. Still, it's not clear how much 72-year-old Pratibha Patil - a lawyer, congresswoman and former governor of the northern state of Rajasthan - can or will do in the mostly ceremonial post to improve the lives of her countrywomen. Patil won 65.82 percent of the votes cast by national lawmakers and state legislators, P.D.T. Achary, the secretary general of Parliament, said on Saturday. She had the support of the governing Congress party and its political allies, and had been expected to win. "It is a special moment for us women, and men of course, in our country because for the first time we have a woman being elected president of India," said Congress leader Sonia Gandhi, who hand-picked Patil and was one of the first to congratulate her.

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