From being an efficient homemaker to running a campaign, launching an initiative, reporting an achievement, and many more, women have proven their mettle in every sphere across the world.
International Women’s Day is observed to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. Every year, the day is observed on March 8 with the purpose to support a platform that helps forge positive change for women. Be it any field, ladies have never left any stone unturned to prove themselves. To commemorate the occasion, let’s celebrate womanhood by taking a look back at those ladies who ‘chose to challenge’ and crossed all the hurdles with flying colours.
1. Priyanka Chopra: Also known as the golden girl, shining worldwide, Priyanka has built a name for herself thanks to her astonishing acting skills and leadership potential. Her dialogue, “I want to create a legacy”, cannot be ignored when she leaves everyone spellbound with her performances and projects.
She rose to fame when she won the Miss World 2000 pageant, despite being bullied several times for her appearance. Making her way to Hollywood, Priyanka has several accolades under her belt which includes Padma Shri, one of India’s highest civilian awards. She was also named one of the world’s most influential people by TIME magazine and listed as one of the most powerful women by Forbes.
Alongside her acting, the global star is also an author, a producer, and a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador where she has worked on causes including child rights, environment, health, education, and gender equalities.
2. Sushmita Sen: The first Miss Universe of India, Sushmita Sen is no less than a wonder woman. Facing all the scandals and societal pressures alone, she is a single parent to two adorable daughters whom she adopted at the time when her career was at its peak.
Fighting the societal pressures when adopting two daughters was against the law, she held her ground with such grace. After her comeback to the silver screen with more than ten years, she enthralled audiences with her magical onscreen appearance and bagged many accolades such as the Filmfare award, Dadasaheb Phalke award, and more. Her famous quote, “I don’t need a man to buy me diamonds, I can own them by myself” is still one of the most inspirational quotes by any celebrity.
3. Avani Chaturvedi: The youngest Indian Air Force flying officer, Avani Chaturvedi became the first Indian woman fighter pilot to fly MiG-21 Bison, solo. MiG-21 Bison is known as a fighter plane that has the highest take-off and landing speed in the world with a speed of 340kph. She truly is an inspiration to many young women out there.
4. Shakuntala Devi: Proclaimed as the ‘Human Computer’, was an Indian woman who holds the 1982 ‘Guinness Book of World Record’ for being able to solve insanely large mental mathematical calculations. The most surprising fact is that Shankutala did this without any formal education.
Belonging to a family where her father was a circus master, she demonstrated her skills and talent to the whole world. This amazing woman also joined politics where she dared to stand against the then Prime Minister of India, Smt Indira Gandhi.
In addition to her work as a mental calculator, Shakuntala was a notable astrologer and an author of several books, including cookbooks and novels. She started with writing short stories and murder mysteries and had a keen interest in music.
5. Mary Kom: Who can forget ‘Magnificient Mary’ when it comes to listing inspirational women. The five-time World Amateur Boxing Champion hailed from a small family of North East India. She is the only woman boxer to have bagged a medal in all six world championships, becoming the first Indian woman boxer to win a Gold medal in the Asian Games.
The 2014 biopic titled ‘Mary Kom’, in which Priyanka Chopra portrayed the lead role, efficiently showed the boxer’s struggles where she chose to challenge and stand against all the odds for her country.
6. Neerja Bhanot: Who says that bravery can only be defined with somebody with good knowledge of weapons. Neerja Bhanot, the 22-year-old flight attendant, who sacrificed her life while saving passengers from terrorists on board a hijacked plane is no less than an example of a ‘woman who chose to challenge’.
The 2016 biopic titled ‘Neerja’, in which Bollywood actor Sonam Kapoor essayed the lead role, shows all the odds that the martyr stood against to engrave her name in the golden book of history.
7. Laxmi Agarwal: An acid survivor, who is an inspiration for many women to fight for their dreams, is also the founder of an NGO named ‘Chhanv Foundation’, which helps victims of acid attacks.
Laxmi has motivated women time and again by showing them that their hard work can do wonders. The acid attack survivor has proved that there is no limit to what women can achieve in this world.
‘Chhapaak’, which released in 2020, saw Deepika Padukone play the role of the acid attack survivor. The movie showcased Laxmi’s struggles and achievements beautifully.
8. Michelle Obama: The first African-American First Lady of the United States, who is an inspiration to many, is also a lawyer and author. During the Barack Obama presidency, she was the organiser of many notable campaigns and initiatives that were meant to fight social evils and hence led to spreading awareness in the country.
9. Malala Yousafzai: The fearless woman, who is a human rights activist, is also a Nobel Prize winner. She received the award at the young age of 17. Malala was shot at the age of 15 by a Taliban gunman because she wanted to study. Standing against all the odds, she chose to challenge the societal laws and lived up to her heroic story, and became a proponent of female education.
10. Oprah Winfrey: Dubbed the ‘Queen of All Media’, Oprah Winfrey is an exceptional woman who survived as a rape victim in her childhood. She is a fearless lady who is a benevolent billionaire, giving gazillions to charity.
This was just a quick look back at the ladies who are a living example of women empowerment. There are many women who have challenged the world and stood against all the odds to prove their potential. This International Women’s Day, may the glorified womanhood flourish to set more examples for the world to follow.
The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘choose to challenge’. (ANI)