Article | Blog | Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, Ministry of Culture, Government of India


First in their field: women who led the way

By : First in their field: women who led the way

March 06, 2022

Women empowerment is necessary for every progressing nation. On Women’s Day 2022, we remember the women who were the first in their fields, who began a revolution by breaking barriers and fighting stereotypes. Such Nari Shakti guided generations that followed and made for a more understanding and equitable society.

The theme for International Women’s Day 2022, ‘Breaking the Bias’ is a fitting tribute to women who achieved milestones despite societal barriers and pressures, to their daring and achievements that made all the difference.

  1. Sarla Thukral

Sarla Thakral, at the age of 21, became the first lady in India to acquire an aviation pilot license in 1936. Such an achievement at a time when Indian women were struggling for basic rights to education and healthcare was truly remarkable. Ms. Thakral managed to train and accumulate more than 1000 hours of flying at the Lahore Flying Club.

  1. Justice M. Fathima Beevi

Fathima Beevi was appointed as the first-ever female judge to the Supreme Court of India in 1989. She has been facilitated with several prosperous awards like Bharat Jyoti Award and Hon. D. Litt Mahila Award (1990).

  1. Kalpana Chawla

The Daughter of Haryana, Kalpana Chawla made the nation proud by becoming the first woman of Indian origin to go into space. She carried out her first space mission in 1997 as a mission specialist and robotic arm operator. She died tragically in a space accident in 2003. Kalpana Chawla’s achievements in the field of space and science was facilitated with a Congressional Space Medal of Honour.

  1. Pratibha Devisingh Patil

Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil become India’s first woman President on 25th July 2007. Smt. Patil received her early education at RR Vidyalaya in Jalgaon and then graduated from Mooljee Jetha College in Jalgaon with a Master’s degree in Political Science and Economics. She successfully contested her first election to the Maharashtra State Legislature from the Jalgaon Assembly constituency at the age of 27.

She served in the Rajya Sabha from 1985 to 1990 before being elected to the 10th Lok Sabha in the 1991 General Elections from the Amravati constituency. Throughout her life, she has never missed an opportunity to work for the welfare of women and children, such as successfully setting-up hostels for working women.

  1. Arunima Sinha

Arunima Sinha is the first differently-abled female to climb Mount Everest. She lost her leg in an unfortunate incident when she was thrown out of a running train by thugs in 2011. Even losing her leg did not bring down her hopes, and she hoisted the National Flag on five peaks namely Everest in Asia, Elbrus in Europe, Kosciuszko in Australia, Kilimanjaro in Africa, and Aconcagua in Argentina.

  1. Arati Saha

Arati Saha became the first Asian woman to swim across the English Channel in the year 1959. She received the honor of Padma Shri in 1960 for her glorious achievements in the otherwise male-dominated field.

  1. Shila Dawre

Shila Dawre defied stereotypes by becoming the first female auto-rickshaw driver in India. In a society where women are expected to be confided in homes, Shila Dawre drove an auto for 13 years (1988-2001). She has always believed in the power of self-reliance and aims to open a training center for women in the future.

  1. Captain Radhika Menon

Captain Radhika Menon ruled the tides by becoming India’s first female Merchant Navy Captain. She began her career in Merchant Navy as a Radio Officer in 1991 with the Shipping Corporation of India Ltd. She took command of the ship for the first time in 2012. Her heroic act of saving seven fishermen from sinking in the stormy waves of the Bay of Bengal won her theg award International Maritime Organization Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea (2016).

  1. Deepa Malik

Deepa Malik became the first Indian woman to win a medal at the Paralympics (Rio 2016). She faced challenges from the very beginning of her life. She had a tumor at the age of six, and despite treatment, the tumor reoccurred later in life. As an impact of three spinal operations, she became paralyzed from the waist down. But her determination kept her going, she opted to look beyond her limitations and came to Delhi to pursue a career in sports. Deepa Malik got facilitated with the prestigious award Padma Shri in 2017.

  1. Mary Poonen Lukose

Mary Poonen Lukose was the first female surgeon in India. She was the founder of the X-ray and Radium Institute in Thiruvananthapuram and Tuberculosis Sanatorium in Nagercoil (Tamil Nadu). She was rewarded with the Padma Shri in 1975.

When women lead the way!

Time after time, women of India have proven that true strength lies in the willingness to make a difference. From sports to space, science to politics, they have made their mark and have inspired women to pursue their goals – no matter how daunting. This Women’s Day let us all take a moment to learn from these leaders and move forward with the resolve to create a society where young girls can dream of being anything they want to be, without any reservations.