In certain places in India and even across the globe where Indians do live today, still believe that men are superior to women. With many crimes against women such as rape, acid attack and domestic violence, the women have no say and take it. And some women wish to fulfill their dreams but their family never allow it or they feel themselves what would society say. However if these 12 great women feared what society would say then their names would never be mentioned in History! Also I would just like to say not just Indian Women but Women as a whole are capable of doing anything they desire and can compete with Men.
(Order with dates)
1. Smitten in His love ~ Meera Bai (born 1510 death year unknown)
Meera Bai, a rajput princess had everything, but still went on the path of love, the love for God. She did not care about anyone in this world despite everyone thought she was crazy at the time, she is now remembered for her pure devotion towards God. Since a young age she believed that Krishna was only her husband and even after her marriage she continued to have devolution towards Krishna which was highly unliked by her in-laws. Once her husband had died she did have a hard time but her faith in Krishna did not fall at all. On the other hand, some traditions that make her a disciple of Guru Ravidas in Chittor. She is remembered for her beautiful poetry, notable ones are Hari Tuma Haro, and Sanson ki Mala Pe. It is said that during the time of her death she emerged into the image of Krishna. Her devotion and courage towards God even when she was said to have been poisoned or even when her hair was shaved and how she kept faith is certainly one to be remembered.
2. The Sikhani ~ Mai Bhago (born 1699 death year unknown)
Who was Mai Bhago- she was a sikh woman also known as Mata Bhag Kaur, married to Bhai Nidhan Singh Varaich of Patti. She was the first women In the history of Punjab, to fight on a battlefield. Her bravery was proved when a group of 40 Sikh male soldiers said they wish not to fight no more as they feared they would be killed, so forty Sikhs wrote their names on this document which was known as a ‘Bedava’ and left Guru Gobind Singh Ji . When Mai Bhago heard this she was deeply distressed to hear these Singhs leaving Guru Gobind Singh Ji. She mocked them saying ‘You wear bangles and run the kitchen while we join the Guru on the battlefield.’ So this then led the 40 sikhs to join Guruji on the battlefield in the battle of Battle of Muktsar. She did also fight along with the 40 sikhs and Guruji she did get wounded but was the sole survivor along with Guru Gobind Singh Ji and served as a bodyguard to Guruji until 1708. She was full of courage and how she fought valiantly, showcasing the power of a Kaur is indeed an inspiration.
3. The forgotten one ~ Rani Velu Nachiyar (1730-1790)
I’m sure many of you would have not even come across the name of Velu Nachiyar. Well she was a queen in the present day Sivaganga district of Tamilnadu in the late 17th century. She was the first queen who fought the British even proceeding the great Rani Laxmibai. Also she was the first revolutionary fighter who opposed the rule of British in Tamil Nadu even before the Sepoy mutiny which is considered as the first war against the British rule in India. So why is she remembered, she is remembered for her military tactics. She also had the first woman’s regiment named after her daughter Udaiyaal, who had perished while detonating British Cannons. She was also the first to use a human bomb in warfare. Her army discovered the place where stock of the British Ammunition was kept, she sent her loyal army commander, Kuyli doused in ghee. Kuyili then set herself ablaze destroying the stock. Velu Nachiyar was one of the few rulers who regained her kingdom and ruled it for 10 more years. She truly did show the strength of a women.
4.The first for war ~ Rani Kittur Chennamma (1778-1829)
Kittur Rani was the queen of the state of Kittur in Karnataka. In 1824, which is 33 years before the First War of Indian Independence of 1857( Indian Rebellion of 1857.) She had led an armed rebellion against the British in response to the Doctrine of Lapse. She was martyred and is remembered to this day as one of the earliest Indian rulers to have fought for independence. Her daring courage is true inspiration for all women till date.
5. The warrior Queen ~ Rani Laxmi Bai (1828-1858)
There needs little introduction of the mighty Rani Laxmi Bai. She was born with the name of Manikarnika and was later married at the age of 14 to the Maharaja of Jhansi, Raja Gangadhar Rao Newalkar, in May 1842. She was highly skilled in shooting, horsemanship, and fencing. After the death of her husband and the british claiming that her adopted son was not an heir she was forced to the leave the fort of Jhansi. However this great women did not give up. Rani Lakshmi Bai strengthened the defense of Jhansi and she assembled a volunteer army of rebellions. Women were also given Military training. The Britishers attacked Jhansi in March 1858. Laxmi Bai with her companions decided not to surrender. The fighting continued for about two weeks. Shelling on Jhansi was very fierce. Despite this great war, Jhansi unfortunately fell to the British forces. Even, so Rani Laxmi Bai did not give up and then she reached Kalpi. Many other rebellions force joined with her,Tatia Tope from Kalpi was one of them. Again a huge fierce battle took place. Rani Laxmi Bai fought with fearlessly with patriotism. However on the second day of fighting, at the age of 23 years, she lost her life. Her heart and soul was put into fighting for independence she lived and died for her country. She will always be remembered for a key role in the Indian Rebellion of 1857 for independence.
6. Bringing a new change ~ Savitribai Phule (1831 – 1897)
Bringing the most important change for women – education was brought Savitribai Phule, who along with her husband, Jyotirao Phule, founded the first school for women in 1848 in Pune and became India’s first women teacher. She was also not only educational reformer but was a social reformer, especially for women they also worked to abolish discrimination and unfair treatment of people based on caste and gender. She established a home for the caring for pregnant rape victims and delivering their children. The care center was called “Balhatya Pratibandhak Griha ” (Infanticide prohibition house).
7. The Captain ~ Dr. Lakshmi Sagal (1914-2012)
Dr.Lakshmi Sagal more commonly known as Captain Lakshmi. Choose to study medicine and received an MBBS degree from Madras Medical College in 1938. A year later, she received her diploma in gynaecology and obstetrics. During 1940 she left for Singapore where later she became part of the Indian independence revolutionary period. In 1942, during the surrender of Singapore by the British to the Japanese, Sahgal aided wounded prisoners of war, many who were interested in forming an Indian liberation army – The Azad Hind Fauj. However, received no firm commitments to proceed. Lakshmi then heard that Subhas Chandra Bose was keen to draft women into the organisation and requested a meeting with him from which she asked to set up a women’s regiment, to be called the Rani of Jhansi regiment. Women responded positively to join the all-women brigade and Dr. Lakshmi became Captain Lakshmi, a name and identity that would stay with her for the rest of her life. However, the INA leadership decided to beat a retreat before they could enter Imphal. Captain Lakshmi was arrested by the British army in May 1945 and was then sent back to India in 1946 a year before the end of the British rule. In her later years (1971) she joined the Communist party of India. She also aided medical help in Calcutta for refugees who came into India from Bangladesh. She was also one of the founding members of All India Democratic Women’s Association in 1981 and led many of its activities and campaigns. She was still seeing patients and giving medical aid regularly at her clinic in Kanpur in 2006, at the age of 92!
8. India’s Frida Kaho ~ Amrita Sher – Gill (1913-1941)
Amrita was the daughter of Sardar Umrao Singh Shergill and Antoinette, a Hungarian lady endowed with considerable artistic talent. She spent the formative years of her life in Europe, she moved to India in 1921 with her family. Her work began to express the life of Indian people through her canvas and painting.She stated: “I can only paint in India. Europe belongs to Picasso, Matisse, Braque…. India belongs only to me”. Her depiction of the plight of women has made her art a beacon for women at large both in India and abroad during the period of Indian renaissance. Till date she remains as the most expensive woman painter of India!
9. The fearless poet ~ Amrita Pritam (1919-2005)
Amrita Pritam is considered to be the first prominent woman in Punjabi poetry and novelist writing. She went onto to become the leading 20th- century poet of Punjabi Language. She is loved on both sides on the India and Pakistan border. She has produced over 100 books, of poetry, fiction, biographies, essays, a collection of Punjabi folk songs and an autobiography. One of her most notable works of poetry is Ajj akhaan Waris Shah nun about the period of partition in Punjab. Many of her novels have been made into films one of the most appreciated film has been the award winning Pinjar which was based on her novel – The Skeleton. She is first Indian woman to have received recipient of the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1956 for Sunehey (Messages).
10. The game changer ~ Kiran Bedi (1949-)
Kiran Bedi became the first woman to join the Indian Police service and later became the highest-ranking woman official in the nation’s history, changing the dynamics of power in the force. Showcasing that women are no less either. In her earlier years she was a tennis champion and then became a top police officer. She was also the person to give Indira Gandhi a traffic ticket! This 66 year old social activist is a true inspiration that women can set a benchmark of bravery and courage in a patriarchal society. Proving women can step out of the comfort zone and be what they want along with being a perfect mother and wife.
11. Gulabi Gang leader ~ Sampat Pal Devi (1960-)
Sampat Pal Devi put together a group known as Gulabi Gang which consisted of group of women from her village to fight various forms of social injustice to help aid women. This developed into an organized women’s movement with tens of thousands of members spread over several districts in Uttar Pradesh. She currently has over 270,000 members. This gang has been able to stop child marriages, dowry and even forced police to register domestic violence cases if that meant by slapping them they sure did! The gang has visited abusive husbands where they beat them up with laathis ( bamboo sticks) until they stop abusing their wives. – Now that’s what you call Badd Ass!
12. The survivor ~ Sunitha Krishnan (1972-)
This women went through a horrific gang rape at the age of 16 but she survived and started one of India’s most prolific NGOs to rehabilitate sex trafficked women. She is indeed a true inspiration to women everywhere in the world. Her organization Prajwala is devoted to aid with eradicating forced prostitution and sex trafficking (founded in 1996). Prajwala evolved need-based interventions through a multi-pronged, strategic approach consisting of five pillars to aid with abuse: prevention, rescue, rehabilitation, reintegration and advocacy. To aid with support for women and current social issues which in some areas especially in rural areas in India, they are unknown of she made use of film making as a tool for advocacy. She conceptualized and scripted 14 documentary films on socially relevant issues such as youth and HIV/AIDS, Sheikh marriages, incest, prostitution, sex trafficking and communal riots. She is a true hero for all rape victims proving that life has not finished that you can truly make the most of it.
I do apologise as there are many other amazing women too! but that would just lead me go to on and on. I’ve attempted to include the ones that I do feel brought the most important modifications with crucial roles for changing the typical image of a Indian women.