Indian women rising

Anusha Singh Monday 08th August 2022 11:57 EDT

Women have, for ages, fought to shine in a world where men are the central characters. Even when we look back to less than 100 years ago, women all around the world were fighting for their rights. Be it the right to vote, own property or manage their own bank accounts. Some have fought to complete their education only to be told they weren’t needed. Those who did make it fought hard to be taken seriously. 

While the situations have improved over the years, women are as yet, at the end of the funnel and are subjected to ridicule. Over the years, many women have taken on patriarchy, lived their lives on their own terms and have set a brilliant example for others all over the world. As India gears up to celebrate Independence, Asian Voice celebrates all those women who are breaking barriers by highlighting the exceptional works of a few who have inspired the world.

  1. Geetanjali Shree. Geetanjali Shree is a Hindi language novelist and short story writer whose excellent work has helped put Hindi Literature on the Global Map. While it was her novel Mai that catapulted her to fame, it is her beautiful storytelling in the novel Ret Samadhi (Translation: Tomb of Sand) that made her a global face when Shree won the International Booker Price in 2022. The book became the first novel translated from an Indian language to win the prize.
  2. Indira Gandhi. Indira Gandhi was the 3rd Prime Minister of India and was the first, and to date, is the only woman to be elected as the Prime Minister of the country. It was under her leadership that India went to war with Pakistan in support of the independence movement in East Pakistan, which resulted in the formation of Bangladesh. She was also the face of the national emergency between 1975 and 1977, a period where widespread outrage was caused. In 1999, Indira Gandhi was named the “Woman of the Millennium” in an online poll by BBC.
  3. Dutee Chand. Dutee Chand is a professional sprinter and a national champion in women’s 100 metres events. She is the first Indian to win a gold medal in 100 metres race in a global event and the third Indian woman to qualify for the women’s 100 metres race at the Summer Olympics. In 2019, Chand became the first Indian sprinter to win gold at the Universiade. Dutee Chand is also the first Indian athlete to openly come out as a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
  4. Kalpana Chawla. Born in 1972, Kalpana Chawla was an astronaut and was the first woman of Indian origin to go to space. She was a part of the crew on Space Shuttle Columbia in 1997 as a mission specialist and primary robotic arm operator. Chawla was a part of the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster and one of the seven members who died when the spacecraft disintegrated during its re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere.
  5. Priyanka Chopra Jonas. Crowned Miss World 2000, Priyanka Chopra Jonas is an actor, singer, model and philanthropist. She is known to make bold choices in her film career and promote awareness about women’s and environmental rights. She has been working with UNICEF since 2006 and was appointed as the national and global UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 2010 and d2016, respectively. In 2016, Chopra was awarded the Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award in India for her contribution to the arts.
  6. Sudha Murthy. Sudha Murthy is an Indian educator, author and philanthropist who is the Chairperson of the Infosys Foundation. She works with the Gates Foundation and is a member of the public health care initiatives.  Murthy has founded several orphanages lending a helping hand in rural development and providing schools with computers and other needed supplies. She was awarded Padma Shri in 2006 for her work in social service.
  7. V S Ramadevi. VS Ramadevi brought about a number of firsts in the Indian political environment. She registered her name as an advocate in the Andhra Pradesh High Court after completing her MA LLB. She was the first lady to become the Governor of Karnataka and the Chief Election Commissioner of India. Ramadevi was the first and is the only woman to serve as the Secretary General of Rajya Sabha. 
  8. S I Padmavati. SI Padmavati was an Indian cardiologist. Founder and President of the All India Heart Institute, she established the first cardiac clinic and cardiac catheter lab in India. She was the director of the National Heart Institute and an elect fellow of the National Academy of Medical Sciences. She was awarded Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan in 1967 and 1992 respectively.
  9. Bhanu Athaiya. Bhanu Athaiya was an Indian costume designer and the first Indian to win an Academy Award. She has also had a historically early career as a painter with two of her works included in the 1953 Progressive Artists' Group show in Bombay. Athaiya has worked in iconic Bollywood movies like Guide, Lagaan and Chandni as a costume designer. She has also worked on international projects with the likes of Conrad Rooks in Siddhartha and Richard Attenborough in Gandhi.
  10. Jhumpa Lahiri.  Jhumpa Lahiri, the daughter of Indian immigrant parents from West Bengal, is an American author known for her novels and short stories. Lahiri’s work is a depiction of her Indian roots, with most of her stories based in West Bengal, India. Her debut collection of short stories, Interpreter of Maladies (1999) won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for Fiction while The Lowland was a finalist for both the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Award for Fiction. In 2014, Lahiri was awarded the National Humanities Medal by former American President, Barack Obama.

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