Women in India: Inspiring voices from across the country: We are approaching the end of Navaratri- nine days celebrating not only the victory of good over bad but also women’s power. So we thought why not bring to our readers the story of 6 women across India in different fields who not only showed what real courage and determination is but also inspired millions of others.
Let’s get started –
Yes, we know most of you already know her, but it’s hard not to begin our list of inspiring women with her, given the strong message she sent to a billion Indians. A former national-level volleyball player, Arunima lost both her legs in an accident. She struggled to cope with the loss and the reaction of people around her, but she didn’t lose hope.
She trained for months and eventually, her determination and perseverance led her to become the first woman amputee to scale Everest in 2013. In her words –
“I would not have climbed Mount Everest if I had not met with the accident. Though I lost my leg in the incident, it made me much stronger. When I was going through a tough time, I remembered my mother’s words who told me when on the edge, look behind and see how much you have climbed and you will realize that you are only one step away from your destination.”
But Everest was only a start for Arunima. 6 years later and she has already scaled most of the highest peaks in the world, the latest being Mount Vinson in Antarctica (the first amputee female to do so). Arunima Sinha is also the recipient of 2015 Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian honor in India.
India’s first woman auto-rickshaw driver, Shila Dawre broke all stereotypes back in 1988, when she drove around the lanes of Pune. Her name is also recorded in the Limca Book of Records. Hers is a story full of struggle and chasing an ‘unconventional’ dream, which inspired a lot of people to break the norms of the society and do what they really want to.
There were jeers and cheers from the people around her, but Dawre kept moving forward. Though she stopped driving a while back, her dream is to start an academy to train women, auto-rickshaw drivers. In her own words –
“More women need to break barriers and make a place for themselves in male-centric fields. I feel that an academy by a woman for women will instill more courage and faith among women drivers.”
She needs no introduction but Mithali Raj, who led Indian women’s cricket team to new heights, is truly an inspiration for millions of girls. Her achievements are many but she still stays humble and focused on what she is passionate about.
Mithali Raj, who debuted in 1999 in International cricket at the age of 16, has been awarded the Padma Shri as well as the Arjuna Award for Cricket. Apart from being the Captain of Women’s ODI and Tests team, she was also the captain in India Women’s first-ever T20I played in Derby in 2006.
Since then, she has led the Indian team in 32 T20Is including the three Women’s WT20 World Cups in 2012, 2014 and 2016 in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and India respectively. Since her T20 debut and first win against England in 2006, Mithali has played in 89 games and scored a total of 2364 runs, the most by an Indian woman in T20Is.
With such exceptional play, it is then no wonder that Mithali Raj is also the first Indian to reach the landmark of 2000 T20I runs.
Mithali, who recently retired from the T20 Internationals to focus more on the 2021 World Cup, is also getting her own biopic soon.
Recently conferred with the Rajeev Gandhi Khel Ratna, Deepa Malik is also the first Indian woman to win a medal in the Paralympics.
The 48-year-old is an inspiration to many as she didn’t let her physical or age limitations get in her way and with sheer determination and effort, went on to win numerous accolades on both national and international platforms.
The first woman sarpanch in India, Chhavi Rajawat who is an MBA, ditched a well-paying corporate job to make a difference. She became the sarpanch of Soda, a village 60 km from Jaipur, and the youngest person to have held the position.
Chhavi has, in the time she held the post, implemented milestone after milestone to improve conditions of her village, including a bank, rainwater harvesting and solar energy. Her goal is to make Soda a model village by pursuing sustainable development that can be easily copied by other villages.
Deepika Padukone’s upcoming movie ‘Chapaak’ is based on the life of Laxmi Agarwal, an acid attack survivor and activist for the rights of acid attack victims.
Her story is truly heart-wrenching but despite going through unimaginable pain since she was attacked in 2005, at the age of 15, Laxmi is still one of the strongest and forward-looking people ever. She didn’t back out in fear if anything she made sure that people heard her voice which eventually led to the regulation regarding sales of acid in the country.
She is the director of Chaanv Foundation, an NGO dedicated to helping survivors of acid attacks on India and received the 2014 International Women for Courage Award by Michelle Obama.