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Stories From The UN Archive: UN General Assembly’s First Female President

In 1953, UN Member States elected India’s political dynamo Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit as the eighth President of the General Assembly, the first woman ever elected to the role. Ahead of International Women’s Day, marked on 8 March, we look back at the huge impact this pioneer for gender equality and non-discrimination had on the international stage.

Ms. Pandit was a veteran politician and leader in her own right but also came from a family background steeped in politics, including her brother, Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister following the country’s hard-won independence from a near century of British rule.

An active Indian nationalist, she was also the first Indian woman to hold a cabinet position in pre-independence India. As newly independent India’s top diplomat, Ms. Pandit served as ambassador, to the then Soviet Union as well as the United States, and as High Commissioner to the United Kingdom from 1955 to 1961.

Watch Madame President Pandit address the world body here, part of our #ThrowbackThursday series showcasing epic moments from UN history from the UN Audiovisual Library’s 49,400 hours of video and 18,000 hours of audio recordings.

Catch up on our series here, and watch episodes from UN Video’s Stories from the UN Archive playlist here.

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