From challenging patriarchal mindsets to fighting disability in pursuit of their passions, Indian women have broken glass ceilings and come out on top. The history of Indian women is full of pioneers. From breaking gender barriers to setting a flag of success in every field, women have achieved something great. Let us look at the “firsts” of many Indian women who have set an example for society.
Priya Jhingan was the first female to be enrolled in The Indian Army in 1992. She is an Indian Army officer and the Lady Cadet No 1. She was a silver medalist from the first batch of 25 lady officers who were commissioned in the Indian Army in 1993. Priya Jhingan was a law graduate and being the daughter of a police officer she was willing to join the Indian Police Service. She wrote a letter to the chief of Army staff to allow her to join the army. She served the nation for ten years.
Harita Kaur Deol
Lt. Harita Kaur Deol was a pilot with the Indian Air Force. In 1992, IAF announced vacancies for eight women pilots. Harita was one of them. On September 2, 1994, Harita created history by becoming the first Indian woman to fly solo without a co-pilot, in an Avro HS-748 aircraft. Due to some technical glitches, the aircraft crashed and Harita had a tragic death on duty. Harita inspired several young Indian women.
Durba Banerjee was the first Indian female pilot and captain of Indian Airlines in 1956. She was always passionate about being the pilot. She started her career as a DC3 pilot in 1959. Durba holds credit for flying for 18500 hrs. She became the commander in the F27 turboprop Aircraft. She also flew the Airbus 300.
Bachendri pal became the first Indian woman to conquer Mt. Everest in 1984. She was awarded by the Indian Mountaineering Foundation for Excellence in Mountaineering. Bachendri Pal also received the third highest civilian award Padma Bhushan by the Government of India in 2019. Currently, she is the chief of Adventure Programmes at Tata Steel Jamshedpur and is also the director of the Tata Steel Adventure Foundation.
Mangte Chungneijang Mary Kom is an Indian amateur boxer, politician, and incumbent member of parliament, Rajya Sabha. She is the only woman to become World Amateur Boxing champion for a record six times. She won a medal in each one of the seven world championships. Also, she is the only Indian female boxer to have qualified for the 2012 summer Olympics. Therefore, she is ranked as the world’s no 1 female light-flyweight by the International Boxing Association. She started boxing when she was only 15 and had been determined since then.
Sarla Thakral was the first Indian woman to fly an aircraft. She earned an aviation license just at the age of 21 back in 1936. She married P.D Sharma at the age of 16, who came from a family which had 9 pilots. This encourages Sarla too to become a pilot. She was the first Indian woman to get the “A” license. She accumulated more than 1000 hours of flying. Sarla also became a successful businesswoman, painter and began designing clothes and jewelry.
Saina Nehwal is the world’s no 1 badminton singles player. She has won 24 international titles. She is the only female player from India who attained the world’s no 1 and overall the second Indian player to achieve this feat. Saina Nehwal was born on 17 March 1990 in Haryana. She has won many national and international matches, making India proud. She achieved a great height of success through her talent.
Sania Mirza is an Indian professional tennis player. She has won six titles in her career. From 2003 to 2013, until her retirement, she was ranked as India’s no 1 player by the Women’s Tennis Association. She has been honored with Padma Bhushan, Pama Shri, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, and the list goes on.
Justice M.Fathima Beevi
M.Fathima Beevi is the first female judge to be a part of the Supreme court of India. She was appointed to the apex court in 1989. She was also the first Muslim woman to be appointed to any of the higher judiciaries in the country.
Flying officer Anjali Gupta served her service in the Air Force from 2001 to 2006. She is the first female officer in India and in the air force to be court-martialed. She was born on 12 May 1970 in Delhi. Anjali completed her education at the University of Delhi. She was working at the Aircraft Systems and Testing Establishment in Bangalore.
Kiran Bedi started her service in 1972 becoming the first female IPS officer. Currently, she is an Indian politician, social activist, and former tennis player. She won the United Nations medal in 2004, Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1994, and President’s Police Medal in 1979. As a teenager, Bedi won several titles at various national and state-level championships.
Kalpana Chawla was the first woman of Indian origin to go to space. She did not set the sky as a limit and flew beyond it. She was an American astronaut and an engineer. Kalpana first flew on the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1997 as a mission specialist and primary robotic arm operator. She won the NASA space flight medal, the congressional space medal, and many more. The government honored her with many awards and memorials.
A member of the Indian National Congress, Pratibha Patil is the only woman to become India’s president. She was the 12th president of India from 2007 to 2012. Pratibha Patil previously served as the governor of Rajasthan from 2004 to 2007. It is an honor for her to receive the Glamour Award for The Chosen Ones.
Indira Gandhi, daughter of the first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, became the first and to date only female prime minister of India. Known for her political intransigency and unprecedented centralization of power. She was an Indian politician and a central figure of the Indian National Congress. Smt. Indira Gandhi associates with a large number of organizations and institutions. Indira Gandhi was selected “woman of the Millennium” in a BBC online poll in 1999.
Mithali Raj is an Indian cricketer and test, ODI captain of women’s national cricket team. It was under her captaincy when the Indian Women’s cricket team came into light. She is the first woman ever to 200 caps. She made her remark when she made a splendid 114 and not out at the age of 16 years. At the age of 19, she broke the record of Karen Rolton 209* with her 214 to set the new record of best individual score.
The list does not end here. Roshni Sharma (first female biker), Anandibai Gopalrao Joshi (Indian female physician), Shila Dawre (Auto Driver), Reita Faria Powel (Miss World), and Arunima Sinha (first female amputee to scale Mount Everest).
Hence, these are the great women who set their aim high and inspired us. So, they remind us that women are not fragile and not meant for only household chores. We salute the women who made their mark on history as leaders, thinkers, or personalities.