It’s the year 2013 and we are all set to celebrate International Women’s Day this 08th of March. As more and more women are proudly showing the world what they are capable of, within the home and outside, taking on roles that were till some years ago only dedicatedly declared the space of men, there have been a few influential and brave women who took the leap and created the path for many other women to follow. These women were the first to break all moulds and step into a world that they were strong enough to create, and lead. These women have truly been the torch-bearers of woman power, and here, we tell you why they deserve our respect, admiration and adulation!
Kalpana Chawla:Born in Karnal, India, she was the first Indian woman in space and the first Indian-American woman astronaut. In 1996 she was selected for her first flight and and traveled 10.67 million kms., as many as traveling 252 times around Earth. She was the second Indian person to fly in space, following Rakesh Sharma who had flown in 1984. In 2003, she again returned to space. But this time, while re-entering into the Earth’s atmosphere, the space shuttle disintegrated over Texas and she died along with 7 other crew members. Posthumously, she was awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, the NASA Space Flight Medal and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal.
Mother Teresa: She founded the Missionaries of Charity which, till 2012, consisted of over 4500 sisters and is active in 133 countries, with a vow to give wholehearted and free service to the poorest of the poor. For over 45 years, Mother Teresa ministered to the poor, sick, orphaned and dying people on the streets. She was the first Indian woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for her outstanding work towards the underprivileged. While receiving the award, she was asked, ‘What can we do to promote world peace?’ to which she replied, ‘Go home and love your family.’ She was also awarded the Padma Shri in 1962, the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding in 1969 and the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award, in 1972 and 1980. For her 100th birth anniversary in 2010, the Indian government issued a special 5 rupee coin.
Bachendri Pal: In 1984, she was selected as one of the members of the elite group of six women and eleven men who were privileged to attempt an ascent to the Mt. Everest. She continued with her team members climbing sheets of frozen ice, cold wind sometimes blowing at the speed of about 100 km per hour and temperatures dipping to -30 to -40 degrees. On 23rd May 1984, she reached the summit of Mt Everest and was standing at the peak, 29,028 ft, along with only one other member.
Zubeida: She was one of the earliest film actresses in India and the first female Indian film director. She was also one of Indian cinema’s earliest superstars and among the few girls who entered films at a time when it wasn’t considered appropriate for females from respectable families to enter movies. This was also the time when men were still playing the roles of females and Zubeida broke the norm to wow everyone with her singing, speech and dancing. She was a stunning young woman, who was born to a Nawab father and an actress mother, and was in reality a princess who entered the world of movies. She did her first movie when she was only 12. Her 1927 movie based on Rabindranath Tagore’s work wowed the members of the Indian Cinematograph Committee so much that they recommended it to be sent abroad for screening. She was a part of both silent as well as talking movies.
Mary Kom: A five-time world boxing champion and the only woman boxer to have won a medal in each of the six world championships. Mary Kom is the only Indian woman boxer who qualified for the 2012 Summer Olympics and went on to win the bronze medal. She is the proud recipient of the Padma Bhushan in 2013, Arjuna Award 2003, Padma Shree 2006, People of The Year Limca Book of Records 2007, CNN-IBN & Reliance Industries’ Real Heroes Award 2008, Pepsi MTV Youth Icon 2008, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award 2009, International Boxing Association’s Ambassador for Women’s Boxing 2009, Sportswoman of the Year Sahara Sports Award 2010 and many more.