“Where there are women, there is magic” – Ntozake Shange.
Every year on March 8, International Women’s Day is observed to spread the message of gender equality and to create a better society free of gender bias. Women are now more than ever going against the grain of male-dominated societies and cultures. Women empowerment has been a hotly debated topic. While many people are still uncomfortable with the idea of seeing women rise and reach their full potential, the vast majority of women are fighting culture and society to break free from the norms.
Women are leaving their imprints on the industry spectrum worldwide and can change the world by gaining influence and power. Women are working both at home and work and excelling at both. Year after year, confident, courageous, intelligent, and determined women from all over the country make a name for themselves and roar ‘success’ in various fields. With their sterling track record of accomplishments, they make India proud.
From becoming Miss Universe to winning a Paralympics gold medal, the stories of successful women always motivate and empower others to follow in their footsteps. Let us raise a toast to these Indian women who have represented their country admirably on a global stage in their respective fields.
Here is a mention of some incredible women who have made their country and themselves proud:
She is from Chandigarh and has made the country proud by winning the long-coveted Miss Universe title in the 70th edition of the beauty pageant event in December. The 21-year-old model is the third Indian woman to win the title in 21 years, following Sushmita Sen and Lara Dutta in 1994 and 2000, respectively.
Her predecessor, Andrea Meza of Mexico, crowned her Miss Universe 2021 in a glitzy ceremony held at the Red Sea port of Eilat. Aside from Miss Universe, she has won several pageant titles, including Femina Miss India Punjab in 2019 and Femina Miss India 2019, where she reached the semi-finals.
Saikhom Mirabai Chanu is the power lady of India. She was born into a traditional Manipur family, and her family recognized her strength when she once went to collect firewood from a nearby hill. She made the entire country proud by winning the first silver medal in the Women’s 49 kg weightlifting category at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. She lifted the nation’s spirits by winning the show on the first day of the Olympics when India found itself on the medals list.
Mirabai made her Olympic debut in 2016 in Rio Olympics. After legendary weightlifter Karnam Malleswari, she became the second Indian in 22 years to win a gold medal at the World Weightlifting Championships. Mirabai was only 11 years old when she won her first competitive gold medal. She was also awarded the Padma Shri (2018) and the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award (2018).
Shaili Singh, an athlete who began her career without proper footwear, has won the world title in Under-18 Youth Long Jump in 2021. She was born in Jhansi and raised by a single mother who learned to sew to make a living. Her journey from Jhansi to Nairobi in her fledgling but promising career was littered with metaphorical uphill climbs.
The long-jump pit was a garden of roses for this girl who had overcome adversity in her life. She received her training at the Anju Bobby George Sports Foundation in Bengaluru. Shaili is now ranked among the top 20 long jumpers under the age of 18 in the world.
Bhawana Kanth, who is renowned as one of India’s first female fighter pilots, was born in Bihar. She did her graduation from BMS College of Engineering in Bangalore with a degree in Medical Electronics. She eventually became the first female fighter pilot to participate in the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) tableau at the 2021 Republic Day parade.
In 2016, she was inducted into the IAF as the first female fighter pilot, alongside Avani Chaturvedi and Mohana Singh. She was also the first female fighter pilot to be qualified to fly daily missions in a fighter plane. Kanth joined the fighter squadron in November 2017 and flew her first solo mission in March 2018 on a MiG-21 Bison.
Leena Nair is a British Indian business executive who was born in Maharashtra. She joined the ranks of Indian CEOs of multinational corporations in December. She also began her management career at a time when her company had only 2% female employees. She studied electronics engineering at Walchand College of Engineering before pursuing management.
Given that Nair was an industry outsider from India and a longtime executive at Unilever, her appointment as CEO of the luxury fashion house Chanel was unprecedented. Leena Nair, the most recent global CEO of the French luxury house Chanel, was also Unilever’s first female and youngest-ever Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO). She left the organization to join the well-known luxury group.
She made Paralympic history by ensuring India’s medal at the Tokyo Games. Bhavina is an Indian paddler from Vadnagar, Gujarat. Her father’s name is Hasmukh Bhai Patel, and she was born on November 6, 1986. At the age of 12 months, she was diagnosed with polio. Despite that, she went on to win a silver medal at the Tokyo Paralympics. At the Blind People’s Association in Ahmedabad, Bhavina’s life took another turn.
She began the incredible journey that led her to the Paralympics in Tokyo and a place in Indian sporting history after being introduced to coach Lalah Doshi. She quickly transformed herself into a table tennis player. It was her first Paralympic Games, and she competed in the women’s singles class 4 finals against world number one Chinese paddler Ying Zhou. Missing out on the gold came with its setbacks, but she is determined to prove herself.
PV Sindhu’s name has become synonymous with badminton in India since her victory in the 2013 Malaysian Open Grand Prix. She became the first Indian woman to win two Olympic medals, taking bronze in badminton in Tokyo and silver in Rio in 2016. She was born in Hyderabad in a sports family.
The star shuttler’s meteoric rise from “Silver Sindhu” to “Double Olympic Medalist” is undeniably historic for Indian women’s sports. At the Badminton World Championships in 2019, Sindhu became the first Indian woman to win a gold medal. In addition to this, she is the first Indian woman to win an Olympic medal in 2020 in Tokyo.
She is a native of Kerala and the daughter of a farmer-entrepreneur. She was the first Indian woman to hold the position of Chief Economist at the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In 2001, she received her PhD from Princeton University. At Harvard University, she is the John Zwaanstra Professor of International Studies and Economics.
Ms Gopinath is also the co-director of the National Bureau of Economic Research’s International Finance and Macroeconomics program. Her excellent skills, extensive experience, and outstanding work during the pandemic make her an ideal candidate for the IMF. She is a technocrat and the author of several books. Gopinath not only strengthened India’s international relations but also inspired every small-town girl in the country.
Edited by Prakriti Arora