Savitribai Phule who founded India's first women's school is considered as the first woman teacher in our country. She lived in British-ruled India. But, white men from the west were not her real foes. Whenever she walked towards her school, the male-dominated Indian society threw dung and stones at her. "She is a threat to our religion," abused many who belonged to the upper caste. She did not bother about the obscene languages of the orthodox men at the streets or the mud and stones came towards her every day. Instead, she would always carry a spare 'saree' with her, which would wear in school before attending her students. Even after 121 years since her demise, Savitribai's legendary persona remains as an inspiration to many and that is why we say, "she who dares, wins."
Many of us may think that it is much easier for women in the 21st century to take up leadership roles. Yes, it is easy comparing to Savitribai's life in the 19th century. However, the numbers say that we are living in a male-dominated society where women are still fighting for their deserving positions. In India, women make up 42 percent of fresh graduates, but only 24 percent become entry-level professionals. Of these, about 19 percent reach senior-level management roles, while only 7.7 percent are on board seats and just 2.7 percent on board chairs. Undoubtedly, women leaders in India are missing across the sectors. To achieve gender parity, women of our nation need stand up and send a clear vision out to the world. This might be difficult task for an Indian woman who lives in patriarchal society. But, many have successfully achieved it.
Celebrating the success of women leaders in Indian education sector, in this issue of the Higher Education Review magazine, we present 'Top 25 Women Leaders in Indian Education Sector' who are rising as role models allowing more young women leaders to follow their footsteps to become leaders themselves. On the cover, we feature, Deepikka Jindal, Chairperson of O.P. Jindal Modern School and Vidya Devi Jindal School, and the Managing Director of JSL Lifestyle Limited. She is indeed a multifaceted leader and a great artist.