We all know Indira Gandhi was first female Prime Minister, Pratibha Patil first female President, and Kiran Bedi the first woman IPS officer in India. What about those torchbearers who were ‘first’ in other professions? These women paved the path for the future generations with hard work, persistent, and courage. They showed it’s possible to break those shackles that stop a woman from achieving success. Let’s celebrate and get inspired by the ‘first’ women of India.
1. Arati Saha
Born in Calcutta (Kolkata), her affair with water started when she was just 4-years-old. Inspired by Mihir Sen, first Indian to cross the English Channel, she finally decided to achieve the same. In 1959, she became not only first Indian but Asian woman to cross the English Channel. She received Padma Shri the following year becoming the first female sportsperson to receive this prestigious award.
2. Cornelia Sorabji
She is the first Indian female lawyer. Her tale of achievements doesn’t end here, she’s also the first woman to graduate from Bombay University. Adding on to her accomplishments, she graduated as the first woman from the Department of Law, Oxford University. Though she completed her degree in 1893 but started her practice as a lawyer in 1924, when women were legally allowed to take up law as a profession.
3. Justice M Fathima Beevi
She began her career in the lower judiciary and slowly worked her way up to retire as a judge of Supreme Court of India. She is the first female judge in India. Also, the first Muslim women to hold a position in higher judiciaries.
4. Bachendri Pal
Coming from a very humble background, she tasted the thrill of mountaineering at the age of 12. Later instead of going for a traditional career, she decided to become a professional mountaineer. In 1984, she became first Indian woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest as a part of India’s first mixed-gender team.
5. Shanti Tigga
This widowed mother of two, 35-year-old woman outperformed all her male contemporaries to become India’s first female “Jawan.” An incredible inspiration to thousands of girls met a tragic end when she was found hanging in a hospital bathroom. There was no conclusive evidence about the cause of her death but that shouldn’t deter us from remembering this incredible achiever.
6. Reita Faria Powell
She became the first Indian to get Miss World beauty pageant title in 1966, at a time when this competition was dominated by occidental beauties. In fact, she became the first Asian to be awarded this title. She’s also a qualified doctor who went on with her practice after winning this prestigious title.
7. Homai Vyarawalla
Born in 1913, she went on to become India’s first photojournalist. An incredible leap in a field that is still dominated by the male population. She began her work in the late 1930s, however, appalled by the emerging paparazzi culture in the 1970s she retired from this profession. She was awarded Padma Vibhusan, highest civilian award in India.
8. Sarla Thakral
She received her aviation pilot license when she was 21-year-old, in 1936. Then she went on to complete 1,000 hours of flying an aircraft.
They paved the path for thousands of girls and taught them to be fearless while following their dreams.
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