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These are women who stood up against all odds, and have often been pathbreaker in what they have done.Strong women who always said, “I Can!”
“The question is not who’s going to let me, but who’s going to stop me” – Ayn Rand.
These women faced opposition, challenges, derision, antipathy and more, in their personal or professional lives, or both. But, that didn’t stop them. They simply did their work. No drama about their ‘ill-fate’. What they did were their duties without any distractions and they got results.
If they could do it, then why can’t we ordinary women do it? Inspiration is the magic ingredient for it. Read on to have one.
Image source: YouTube
A six-time World Amateur Boxing Champion, ‘Magnificent Mary’ is the only Indian woman boxer to qualify for the 2012 Summer Olympics where she also won a Bronze medal. She has also been the only woman boxer who has won a medal in each of the seven world championships.
But success didn’t come easily to this tribal girl from Manipur. As a child, she had to help her poor parents besides taking care of her young siblings. She faced strong opposition from society when it came to pursuing boxing, a sport that was considered “too masculine” for a young girl. But that didn’t stop her from learning athletics in Imphal. She honed her craft strenuously there to win the Best Boxer award at the First State Level Invitation at the women’s boxing championship in Manipur. Slowly and steadily, her fame and honour multiplied and today she has been awarded the Padma Shri in 2010 and Padma Bhushan in 2013 for her extraordinary achievements in the field of boxing.
Read more about her here
The first Indian woman to reach the highest summit ‘Mount Everest’, she truly has been the source of inspiration for many.
Right from childhood, she had to face a ton of challenges as a child of poor parents. She managed to support herself and her studies through sewing. Though she regarded her parents with high esteem, she had to face resistance from family when she wanted to opt for mountaineering instead of school teaching. She managed to get an admission at the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering in 1982, and started her journey to become a path-breaker. She conquered the Everest in 1984.
A strong opponent of the bias against girls to choose a career of their choice, Bachendri has always been solicitous about the welfare of women. She is the recipient of the Padma Shri, and the Arjuna award, among many other felicitations.
Read more about her here.
Image source: Reshma Krishnamurthy, Women’s Web
The first and one and the only female driver of Bengaluru’s BMTC bus driver, she chose this profession out of helplessness when nothing else worked out after her husband’s death. But, today after years of service and holding a ‘no accident record’, she proudly says that she is a bus driver. She didn’t step back when it came to working odd hours like till 1 am in the night. She humorously told in the interview by “The Hindu” that the traffic always lets her go first.
Women ought not to be ‘fat’ and Standup Comedy is only for men. These are the two myths that Bharati Singh busted successfully.
Though always bullied and ridiculed by the names like ‘Baby Elephant’ for being overweight, she truly turned her greatest shortcoming into her greatest strength. She is certainly the first woman stand-up comedian who paved the way for other women to take up this field as a profession.
Back in the 1980s, young Shatbhi had a dream of becoming a Chinese cuisine chef. But, the then male-dominated profession of chefs didn’t welcome a passionate woman chef with open arms. Unfortunately, she had to quit her job. But, her imperturbable self-belief made her join as a bartender in Mumbai’s Chopsticks restaurant where she won hearts by her concoctions.
Today she owns a Bartending academy, is a pioneer behind many bars in India and overseas in countries like Singapore, New York and Lima.
A middle-class Maharashtrian girl born in 1962, Rajni solved her first detective case as a college student when she helped a friend who was allured into prostitution illegally. Though her father was sceptical about her decision to become a private detective, her mother had always fully supported her.
Soon, she started Rajni Pandit Detective Services with a small staff and a few cases. Though she wanted to advertise about her agency in a newspaper, her plea was rejected by the newspaper on the grounds that no woman would choose such a career. After years of dedicated service as a detective, she has served many to solve their problems. She chose to be a single woman lifelong and dedicated her life to her career. A recipient of the prestigious Hirkani award, she is truly called the Lady James Bond of the country.
A diploma holder in Electrical Engineering, Surekha opened the doors for women train drivers in the country when she became one in 1988.
Though she faced a lot of antipathy when she was appointed as a Western Ghats loco-driver that is an arduous task for a train driver, she boldly averred that she has undergone the same training that any other male driver has undergone and that she was selected as she had the potential. Today, she has proved her potential with no record of accidents during her 29-year long career as a driver.
Prem Mathur was born in 1910, and until 1947, there were no women pilots for commercial airlines. Prem became the first woman co-pilot at the age of 38 in 1947, with Deccan Airlines, after having face rejection from 8 airlines.
After two years she questioned the authorities why she was not given the responsibility of pilot-in-charge. Once again her hopes were dashed by the male-dominated society when she was told that passengers would run away if they came to know about a woman pilot! Again, she didn’t give up. She left Deccan Airlines, and managed to become the Birlas’ private jet pilot in Dehli. She has flown many big names, like Lady Mountbatten, and Indira Gandhi. After a while, she joined Air India where she retired after years of service in flying planes.
Acid attack survivor & model
Although survived a facial acid attack, this 19-year old had the courage to ramp walk at the New York fashion week. Rather than living in fear after such a dreadful incident in her life, she lives a life filled with dignity and self-respect.
Mountaineer & volleyball player
The first female amputee to conquer the Mount Everest in 2013, she was basically a national level volleyball player. But destiny proved cruel to her when she lost her leg while resisting thieves in a running train in 2011.
But this couldn’t shake her self-confidence and determination. After intensive surgery and a prosthetic leg, she contacted Bachendri Pal for training and successfully climbed the Everest after 17 hours of toil. Today, she is the pioneer behind the free sports academy named Pandit Chandra Shekhar Vikalang Khel Academy for the physically disabled. She donates all that she is getting from people as well as from government.
A PhD in Social Work and a co-founder of Prajwala, an NGO working against human trafficking and rehabilitation of the survivors. She herself is a gang rape victim at the age of 15, and took the incident as a turning point in her life. With no support of her parents, she continued on the path of social service. Today, Prajwala has rescued over 12000 survivors of sex trafficking. She truly deserves the Padma Shri awarded to her in 2016.
First Muslim woman pilot
Image source: Hindustan Times
The first Muslim woman pilot of India, she too had to face her share of opposition from community and family when she chose to be a pilot. She also had to face a scintilla of Islamophobia after the 9/11 attacks when she was procuring her training abroad. But, she managed to win over the people with a little tact and humor as said she told in an interview. She undoubtedly breaked the stereotype of a Muslim woman at the age of 24 when she has been associated with Spicejet for 2 years now.
Transgender Social Activist
Though a transgender, Gauri (originally Ganesh) has always heard all kinds of derogatory comments. She finally left home due to the lack of understanding from her family about the reality of her being a transgender. She filed a petition in the Supreme Court regarding equality of all genders. She is also now a single mother of a girl rescued by her from human traffickers. Recently she also appeared in the renowned TV show Kaun Banega Crorepati where she won Rs. 25 lakhs prize money.
Adoptive single mom
Image source: Bollywood Hungama [CC BY 3.0]
A former Miss Universe at the age of 22, Sushmita is truly a strong woman personified. She chose to adopt a girl child when she was only 25 years old. Today, a single mother of two beautiful adopted girls, she has dignified the concept of a ‘single mother’ which was looked upon with derision earlier.
They make up a huge share of the pie-chart of path-breaking women who instead of going into a depression or rebelling against the system simply concentrate on their work and duties with a positive attitude. Not all of them are a famous personality like the above mentioned ones. But they are truly heroic in their endeavours that though they face a lot of challenges on a daily basis, they never give up.
Nothing can dim the light that shines from within – Maya Angelou.
Header image: YouTube
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