7 Inspiring Women who Won the Padma Shri and our Hearts Too

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“Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.”

Gone are the days when women were confined to the four walls of their home. Today, they’re out there, making waves and becoming forerunners of change. With sheer determination, grit and strength, there are many women out there who have demolished the damsel-in-distress myth. They’re as powerful as a physically superior male. 

Over the years, the government of India has bestowed one of the highest civilian awards of the country, Padma Shri, to exceptional women who have proved their mettle in every sphere. They are the ones who have ushered in change to build a better India. They’ve been handpicked from all corners of the nation to show the rest of the world what ''Nari Shakti'' (Women Power) is.

Here’s a list of seven such superwomen who have been conferred with the Padma Shri in the past few years and are single-handedly driving mass change:

Our Real Sheroes 

1. Dr. Tsering Landol

Dr. Tsering Landol is Ladakh’s first gynaecologist. She was conferred with the Padma Shri in 2006. She was also awarded the Padma Bhushan in the year 2020. In a culture where women shy away from speaking about health problems, she wanted to bring about change. From delivering babies in freezing temperatures to fighting cultural norms around menstruation, and becoming a pioneer in women’s health, Dr. Landol has left no stone unturned to serve the women in her region. Although she is retired now, her contribution to society continues in the form of her charity work even today. 

2. Oinam Bembem Devi

Oinam Bembem Devi is the first woman footballer to receive the Padma Shri award. She earned this prestigious title for herself in 2020. After two decades of working hard, she was ecstatic when she was conferred with this award. In the year 2017, she also won the Arjuna award. As a child, Bembem would change her name to play with boys. Little did she know that a few years later, her real name would earn her recognition and respect. Today, she is a name synonymous with women’s football in India. 

3. Jamuna Tudu

Jamuna Tudu is an Indian environmental activist. She is popularly referred to as the ‘Lady Tarzan’ of Muturkham village of Jharkhand. Her first quest with forest conservation started in the year 2020. Since then, she has been at it. Tudu has managed to save 50 hectares of forest in 20 years with the support of 6000 people. In the year 2019, she was awarded the Padma Shri. She is also the founder of ‘Van Suraksha Samiti’, a community headed by women that prevents illegal felling of trees near her village in Jharkhand. On the occasion of Raksha Bandhan, these women also tie a rakhi to the trees for their wellbeing.  

4. Rahibai Soma Popere 

Popularly known as the “seed mother” of Maharashtra, Rahibai Soma Popere is a self-made expert in subjects such as landrace conservation, agro-biodiversity and innovative agricultural techniques. She was conferred with the Padma Shri award in 2020. She is actively involved in the conservation of native seeds. Having put twenty years into this mission, she constantly wants to remind people and create awareness about the ill-effects of using pesticides and fertilizers. Her aim is to make tradition and organic farming a way of life. She was also among the three women on the BBC list of “100 Women 2018”.  

5. Dr. Bhakti Yadav

Dr. Bhakti Yadav from Indore also referred to as “Doctor Dadi” won the Padma Shri award in 2017. The same year, she succumbed to age-related ailments. However, throughout her life, nothing stopped her from serving humanity. She was the first woman in Indore to hold an MBBS degree. For sixty-eight years of her life, she treated patients free of cost and helped deliver thousands of babies. Despite securing a job in a government hospital, she refused to take it up. Instead, she set up her own maternity hospital which catered to the wives of poor cotton mill workers. Today, her children are running her nursing home. 

6. Meenakshi Amma

Conferred with the Padma Shri in 2017, Meenakshi Amma is among the unsung sheroes of our country. Her tryst with Kalaripayattu (an Indian martial art form) began at the age of five. She has been unstoppable ever since then. She is a grandmother of eight, wears a saree and yet performs the most physically demanding and complex martial art form of Kerala. Meenakshi Amma has made several media appearances, attended inaugurations and lecture demonstrations throughout the country. This sword-wielding granny is truly an inspiration to the entire country and its youth. Women power all the way!

7. Rajashree Birla

When we talk about community initiatives and rural development, we cannot possibly miss mentioning Rajashree Birla, an Indian philanthropist. She was married to Aditya Birla, who succumbed to death in 1995. Thereafter, she began working in the CSR and charity sector. In the year 2011, she was bestowed the Padma Bhushan award. The Birla family has always been known for its tradition of giving back. After her husband’s death, her interest in education, health, sustainable livelihoods, infrastructure support and social reform increased. With a myriad of projects such as medical camps, vocational training and widow remarriage, Mrs. Birla has surely carved a framework for new India.

These are just a few awe-inspiring women who are the epitome of women empowerment and strength. Though they were bestowed accolades and laurels late in their lives, nothing stopped them from continuing the good work. Most of them may not have been born with a silver spoon in their mouth, but their perseverance towards the nation and social good is something to be reckoned with. 

This 72nd Republic Day, we at Girls Buzz extend a big thank you to each of these superwomen who made this world a better place to live in with their exemplary work. 


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