From Gulf News:
India's Indira Gandhi, Sri Lanka's Sirimavo Bandaranaike, Pakistan's Benazir Bhutto, Bangladesh's Shaikh Hasina, Philippines' Corazon Aquino and Indonesia's Megawati Sukarnoputri — these women leaders dominated South and South East Asia for much of the past four decades.
Each belonged to a special class of women whose husbands or fathers were their country's recognised founding father or long-standing political leader. But, while their dynastic links brought them to power, they were not the sole factor keeping them there.
When first elected, none of these women had any serious professional or political qualifications. For some, this ‘shortcoming' was seen as an advantage, enabling some of them to project an image of innocence and purity, even martyrdom, as they stood in the place of their deceased husbands or fathers. None was particularly focused on a women's agenda (at least not in their first terms in office), and studies show that rural women did not fare particularly well under their rule.
But something very different emerged in Asia in 2011. A growing number of women are reaching for the highest political echelons in their countries by dint of their political talents alone.