International Women’s Day is just round the corner (read March 8). While we should celebrate women every day, this occasion calls for honoring women who are a class apart. So in lines to what the Indian Prime Minister has proposed with his #SheInspiresUs campaign, we share with you a list of women who were the first in their field in India.
1. Seema Rao: India’s Wonder Woman
Seema Rao is the first and the only woman trainer in the Indian Army. She received her education from some of the finest universities
around the globe like Harvard Medical School, Doane University and
Westminster Business School. She is a certified doctor, and also has an
MBA degree in Crisis Management. Moreover, she is specialised in Closed Quarter Battle (CQB) and has trained more than 15,000 commandos from various armed forces for over 20 years.
This Wonder Woman has invented a new method of shooting called the ‘The Rao System of Reflex Fire’, which has also been patented. #SheInspiresUs
2. Sarla Thakral (Mati)
Sarla Thakral was the first Indian woman to fly an aircraft at the age of 21. She got married to P.D. Sharma at the age of 16. Sharma came from a family of 9 pilots. In fact, she was India’s first airmail pilot. She earned her ‘A’ license after accumulating more than 1000 hours of flying, that too, at the age of 21! No wonder #SheInspiresUs this International Women’s Day.
When her husband passed away, she tried to train for Commercial pilot’s license. Unfortunately, all flying had to be suspended as the Second World War broke out. Then, she travelled back to Lahore and got her Diploma in Fine Arts. After the Partition of India, she moved back to Delhi. She was a successful businesswoman, painter, designer of costumes and clothing.
3. Arunima Sinha: Epitome of Grit
Arunima Sinha is the World’s first female amputee to scale the Mount Everest, Mount Kilimanjaro and many other high peaks around the globe. She is also India’s first female amputee to climb the Mount Everest. Arunima is a national volleyball player from Uttar Pradesh who lost her leg in a horrifying accident in 2011. While in recovery, she decided to become a mountaineer, and scale the highest peaks of each continent.
Till 2014, she has done seven peaks and she completed her final summit of Mount Vinson in Antartica in 2019. In the year 2015, Arunima received the Padma Shri and the Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award.
All these women became successful because of their resilience, determination, patience, decisiveness and courage. And they are just a couple of names out of hundreds. There are so many women around the globe who were the first in their fields, and yet their names are highly unheard of.
Sadly, as we celebrate these stories we also have to remember that there are so many women out there who want to be financially independent, or achieve a lot, or maybe just stay safe. But are not getting enough support and means to showcase their talent and more. The world is filled with many women who have so much to prove and not enough means to do so. It’s time to inspire and support all such women. Because only women can help lift each other up. And that should be our resolve this International Women’s Day.
-Ravneet Kaur Chawla
A Colorful Riot!