Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit

* Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit was the first Indian woman to hold a cabinet post in pre-independent India.

* Hailing from a prominent political family, her brother Jawaharlal Nehru was the first Prime Minister of independent India.

* In 1937, she was elected to the provincial legislature of the United Provinces  and was designated minister of local self-government and public health.

* She held the latter post until 1938 and again from 1946 to 1947.

* In 1946, she was elected to the Constituent Assembly  from the United Provinces.

* Following India’s freedom from British occupation in 1947 she entered the diplomatic service and became India’s ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1947 to 1949, the United States and Mexico from 1949 to 1951, Ireland from 1955 to 1961 (during which time she was also the Indian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom), and Spain from 1958 to 1961.

* Between 1946 and 1968, she headed the Indian delegation to the United Nations.

* In 1953, she became the first woman President of the United Nations General Assembly.

* In India, she served as Governor of Maharashtra  from 1962 to 1964, after which she was elected to the Indian parliament’s lower house, Lok Sabha, from Phulpur, her brother’s former constituency from 1964 to 1968.

*In 1979, she was appointed the Indian representative to the UN Human Rights Commission, after which she retired from public life.

* Her writings include The Evolution of India (1958) and The Scope of Happiness: A Personal Memoir (1979).