I alone cannot change the world. But I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.
Today, we celebrate International Women’s Day – A day which celebrates the achievements of women across the globe. A woman is appreciated for her role of a mother, a daughter, a sister and a friend. There is an old adage which credits women for the success of every man.
Earlier, a woman’s achievement or identity was twined with her husband or father or sometimes, her son. As days progressed, women came out of their closets and started influencing the social, economic and political scenarios of their countries.
The changemakers never brought about the changes with a BANG. These women made single-minded, persistent efforts to make an immense impact on the society. It was neither the fame nor the fortune, but only the love and the compassion that inspired them to spearhead the change.
We bring to you 9 women who have battled adversities, suffered setbacks, met societal opposition and endured hardships to emerge winners. They may not have changed the whole world but they have created enough positive ripples in their circle of influence which has made so many lives better.
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9 Exceptional Women Who Have Made Us Proud
#1. Sindhutai Sapkal
Sindhutai is affectionately called “Mother of Orphans”. She was born in a village near Wardha, Maharashtra to a family of cowherds. She was married off when she was just 10 years old and was abandoned by her husband when she was pregnant with her 4th child.
She resorted to begging to fend for herself and the child. She realized that there were many children abandoned by their parents. She decided to adopt all of them and begged vigorously to feed all of them. Thus beginning, she devoted her life to the orphans and has nurtured over 1050 orphaned children. Today, many of her “children” are well-educated professionals and contribute to her cause.
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#2. Phogat Sisters
The six Phogat sisters from the state of Haryana have made a mark in the world of wrestling and have won laurels for our country in many international meets.
Born in a state that battles gender inequality and female feticide, they took up a sport which was completely male-dominated and proved themselves by representing the country in Commonwealth Games and Asian Championships. They have truly made us proud.
#3. Kalpana Chawla
Kalpana Chawla was born in Haryana. At a time when female feticide was at its peak, her parents encouraged her to study Aeronautical engineering, a male-dominated field of study.
She was the first female astronaut of Indian origin in space. She worked in NASA and went to space in the Columbia space shuttle. Unfortunately, she died when Columbia disintegrated on entering earth’s atmosphere. Today, she is remembered in every household with a lot of pride.
#4. Arunima Sinha
Arunima Sinha was a national volleyball and football player. On her way to attend an examination for a job, she was thrown out of the train as she resisted an attempt of robbery and lost her leg. Through sheer grit and determination, Arunima Sinha climbed Mount Everest and also the highest peaks in every continent, with a prosthetic leg, thereby inspiring us.
#5. Sudha Murthy
Sudha Murthy is a gold medalist in Master of Engineering at IISc, Bangalore. When women chose traditional careers like teaching, she was the first female engineer to be recruited in TELCO. She left her job to start Infosys along with her husband.
Today, she runs the philanthropic organization Infosys Foundation which runs orphanages, supports rural development and has established libraries and computer facilities in rural schools. She is also an accomplished author.
#6. Saalumarada Thimmakka
Thimmakka was born in Magadi Taluk, near Bangalore. She was married off at a young age but didn’t bear children. She started planting banyan trees along the side of the roads, by grafting saplings from other banyan trees. She tended to it day and night like her own children and has grown 384 trees till now. She achieved all this with a meager pension of Rs.400 per month.
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#7. Mary Kom
Mary Kom is 5-time World Amateur Boxing Champion and has won many other international titles. She comes from a humble background and with her strong willpower, rose to become a world champion. Unlike many women, she didn’t give up boxing after becoming a mother. She went on to train rigorously to win gold in Asiad Games in 2014 alongside attending to her 3 kids.
#8. Neerja Bhanot
Neerja Bhanot worked as a chief flight attendant in Pan American World Airways. During a stopover in Karachi, the plane was hijacked by terrorists. With presence of mind, she alerted the cockpit crew pilot who disembarked the plane. She courageously took charge of the situation in the plane and tried to help passengers escape from it. Unfortunately, she sacrificed her life while trying to protect 3 American children from gunfire.
#9. Sushmita Sen
Sushmita Sen became the first Indian to win the Miss Universe title in 1994. She is always referred to as “Woman of Substance”. Unlike other beauty contest winners, Sushmita decided to become a single mother at the age of 25 years and adopted a baby girl. It was a very brave move by her which defied societal norms, to become an adoptive mother before getting married. Today, she inspires all women who are single mothers, to be brave and to take control of their lives without the support of a man.
Dear Ladies, there are many more women amongst us who have stood strong in adversities and made a difference to the society. We may not be able to write about all of them but we salute all the women who have defied gender norms, broken glass ceilings and made a mark in various fields.
Happy International Women’s Day!
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