How a social reformer, a lawyer, a doctor, and a peacemaker changed the subcontinent.

Women in India have endured often harsh and cruel lives in a society which has long favored boys to girls, sanctioned child marriage, and practiced a dowry system. The government and culture have limited their access to education, employment, and escape from (domestic) violence. What they have accomplished has at times been overlooked or credited to others.

In many instances, Christian women have confronted additional challenges. Christian converts have faced significant persecution from the communities they’ve left, and those raised in families who switched faiths a generation or two prior still endure generational pain and trauma related to these hardships.

Nevertheless, numerous Indian Christian women have responded to their circumstances with a strong sense of justice and compassion for others suffering oppression. They have made notable contributions to child rights, social justice, the freedom struggle, nation building, and women’s empowerment. Here are four Indian Christian women whose lives of service, ambition, and compassion offer the church imperfect but remarkable role models.

The Social Reformer: Pandita Ramabai Sarasvati (1858–1922)

“People must not only hear about the kingdom of God, but must see it in actual operation, on a small scale perhaps and in imperfect form, but a real demonstration nevertheless.”

Pandita Ramabai Sarasvati devoted her life to empowering women and promoting gender equality in 19th-century British-ruled India, a society where patriarchy was deeply entrenched. Although politicians and activists have routinely applauded her relentless efforts to serve the marginalized, they often overlook her Christian faith, which served as the foundation for her life and work. …

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