International Women’s Day has just been celebrated to honor women’s socioeconomic, political, and cultural achievements. Learn about 12 Indian women who were pioneers in their fields.
International Women’s Day commemorates social, economic, political, and cultural achievements made by women. The event, which is celebrated every year on March 8, honors women’s accomplishments, raises awareness about gender equality, and advocates for rapid gender parity.
The UN theme for 2022 is “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow,” with the goal of recognising women who are working to achieve a more sustainable future.
Here is a list of twelve Indian women who were pioneers in their fields and have become great role models for females of the next generation.
1. Lata Mangeshkar died recently but will always be remembered for her sweet voice. She was bestowed with the highest honor in France in 2007. At the age of 80, she received France’s highest civilian distinction, the Insignia of ‘Officier de la Legion d’Honneur’ (Officer of the Legion of Honour). In 1974, the Guinness Book of World Records called Lataji the most recorded performer in history, with an estimated 25,000 songs. Between 1948 and 1974, she performed over 25,000 solo, duet, and chorus-backed compositions in 20 Indian languages, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
2. Indira Gandhi became our country’s first female Prime Minister in 1966. She was the second longest-serving Indian prime minister after her father, serving from January 1966 to March 1977 and again from January 1980 till her assassination in October 1984.
3. Fatima Beevi became the first female Supreme Court justice. In 1989, a Kerala High Court judge made history by becoming the first female Supreme Court judge. Fatima Beevi also became the first woman Supreme Court judge in Asia and the first Muslim woman to set a precedent at such a high level in the Indian court.
4. Tessy Thomas was the first female to lead a missile project. Tessy Thomas, India’s Missile Woman, shattered the glass ceiling in the missile project, becoming the project director for the Agni-IV missile in DRDO in 2009 and successfully testing it in 2012. She is currently the fifth woman in the role of Director General of Aeronautical Systems.
5. Arunima Sinha was the first female amputee to reach the summit of Mount Everest. Arunima, a national-level volleyball player, had to have her leg amputated below the knees after an accident in 2011 in which some robbers attempted to shove her out of the train.
But the incident did not derail her ambitions; in 2013, she became the first female amputee to summit Mount Everest.
6. Reita Faria Powel, was the first lady to be crowned Miss World. In 1966, at the Lyceum Ballroom in London, United Kingdom, she became the first Asian woman to win the title of Miss World, beating out 51 other contestants. When she won the crown, Reita Faria was a medical student. She also became the first Indian woman to compete in a beauty contest wearing a swimming suit.
7. Kalpana Chawla’s became the first woman to visit space. Kalpana Chawla was an Indian American Astronaut who became the first Indian woman to reach space in 1997. “I dimmed the lights in the flight deck during one of the night passes and saw the stars.”
When you gaze at the stars and the cosmos, you realise that you are not just from a certain piece of land, but from the entire solar system.”
8. Kiran Bedi was the first female IPS officer. Kiran Bedi, a retired Indian police officer, professional tennis player, and social activist, was the first female IPS officer, beginning her service in 1975 and leading the all-male Delhi contingent at the Republic Day Parade the same year. She was the 24th Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry for five years. Kiran Bedi has also introduced some novel techniques to operating as an IPS in the areas of drug trafficking, drugs, and VIP protection.
9. Shila Dawre became the first female auto-rickshaw driver in 1988, defying norms of men driving autos and wearing khaki over standard salwar kameez. Although the job is difficult for women, she overcame the difficulties and earned a living in a male-dominated field.
10. Anna Malhotra is the first woman to hold the position of IAS officer. Anna Rajam Malhotra became the first woman to hold the prestigious position of Indian Administrative Service Officer in 1972, serving under seven successive Chief Ministers as well as Rajiv Gandhi. Anna Malhotra has also accompanied former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on a tour of eight countries and helped build India’s first computerised port.
11. Harita Kaur Deol became the first female pilot in the IAF to fly alone. Lieutenant Harita Kaur Deol became the first woman to fly solo in an Avro HS – 748 aircraft at the age of 22 and set a record for the Indian Air Force by flying to a height of 10,000 feet.
She was one of the first seven female cadets to be appointed as short commission officers in the Indian Air Force in 1993.
12. Priya Jhingan became the first Indian woman to serve in the Indian Army. Lady Cadet No. 1 and Silver Medalist – Major Priya Jhingan was the first female to join the Indian Army when she was commissioned in 1993.