9 Stories About 9 Different Women Who Have Inspired Us The Most8 minute
Often Men are, in a humongous way, expected and even accepted to be the ‘strong one’ always. Men, masculinity, strength, and toughness are all words that go together unanimously. Isn’t it? Undoubtedly, there is a section of society today that is embracing men as vulnerable as well. That is a whole different discussion on change and evolution and all. Well, in my opinion, women, and strongness always go together. Yes, I know it does contradict the popular opinion that I mentioned at the beginning. Let me explain why my opinion is the opposite. Women are a fusion of love, compassion, beauty (regardless of their colors, shapes, and sizes), sacrifice, opinion, respect, and vulnerability. Don’t you wonder, being a combination of all these qualities integrated, is the epitome of ‘being strong’? In my opinion, women are the absolute embodiment of being strong.
It takes an immense amount of mental stability and stubbornness to survive safely, to live independently, and build your dream career successfully in a society where women being unapologetic, talented, passionate, and opinionated is least appreciated. In this blog, I celebrate several women who have overcome stereotypes that society has imposed on them and are an example to all other aspiring women out there, like you!
The Navratri festival is around the time in India at the moment. It is a festival celebrating womanhood and its glory. The following are the illustrations of nine women who showcase an avalanche of reasons to celebrate a festival like Navratri, to worship goddesses (womanhood).
1. Geeta Goel - An Impact Investor
An Impact investor is the one who makes investments made to generate positive, measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return. Geeta is the Country Director, for the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation. She manages the foundation’s operations in India to transform the lives of urban low-income communities through improved education, livelihoods, and financial inclusion. Geeta is an expert on equity in opportunity and ‘sustainable impact’. She entered the world of philanthropy and impact investments in 2007 with the India office of Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. Goel has led the foundation’s investments in over 35 portfolio companies and committees over $150 million in India. Under her leadership, the foundation currently has over 50 active projects in India. Before this role, Geeta led the foundation’s Mission Investing work globally.
Before joining this foundation, Geeta spent more than 12 years with the finance corporate houses in India. Goel chaired the impact investment council in India (2017-2019) and is an eminent member of the Investment Committee of India Educational Fund and Educational Catalyst Fund. When sharing her journey experience to the top, in the making of a leader, her top 3 advice to women who aspire to be in leadership roles is to be bold, unapologetic, and vocal about their priorities, she said in an interview.
Geeta is a mother of two and an alumnus of IIM - Ahmedabad. She believes in working for the greater good by amplifying the impact of investments. Geeta is the perfect example of a woman who, with her sheer talent and perseverance has conquered both personal and professional goals in life.
2. Karuna Nundy - Lawyer at the Supreme Court of India
Karuna is one audacious advocate at the Supreme Court of India and an international human rights lawyer. She represents and acts as a legal policy adviser to governments, United Nations, companies, and civil society movements. She is qualified to practice in India and the State of New York.
Nundy has done consultancies on various aspects of International Law with UNICEF, UNDP, and the IPU, in UN HQ in New York, Bhutan, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, the Maldives and Nepal and has advised the governments of most of those countries.
At present, she serves on the Global High-Level Panel on Media Freedom, lead by former Chief Justice of England Lord Neuberger and Amal Clooney. She is a member of the Columbia Global Experts Panel on Freedom of Expression. Her specialties include Litigation, Constitutional law, Legal policy, Media law, Arbitration, International Law.
She has received a plethora of recognitions and achievements in her life and her field of career. She has contributed enormously to her service. What inspires me about her is her fearlessness despite everything. The courage to make things right. The relentlessness to fight until justice is received. The zest to persist against your opposition and all odds until you win and her resistance to fail. This is what makes her extraordinary and a truly inspiring woman for today.
Karuna believes people need to start seeing women as full citizens, full individuals, with the right to a taste in music, with a right to go to work, to express their sexualities the way they wish. She is an amazing example of a woman who lives life on her terms and dares to fight for her beliefs.
3. Nirmala Sitharaman - Indian Economist and Politician
She is both the Finance Minister of India and the head of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. Before, Nirmala was the Defence Minister in the current ruling party’s previous cabinet. She is the first full-time Finance Minister and the second full-time Defence Minister of the country. She was nominated to the National Commission for Women during the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) regime under Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Sitharaman joined the BJP in 2008 and was made a spokesperson for the party the next year. In 2014, she became a member of the Indian Parliament in the Rajya Sabha as a BJP candidate. Sitharaman is well known for her firefighting skill in public and parliament. During the COVID-19 pandemic in India, she was made in charge of the COVID-19 Economic Response Task Force.
She was born in Madurai, Tamil Nadu to a middle-class family. She did her schooling at Madras and Tiruchirappalli and completed her BA in Economics from Seethalakshmi Ramaswamy College in Tiruchirappalli. Further, she pursued a master’s from JNU in 1984. Also, she has done a Ph.D. in dissertation on the Indo-European textile trade. In JNU, she met Parakala Prabhakar, and later in 1986, she got married to him and went to London. After moving to London, she worked as the Senior Manager of Research and Analysis with Price Waterhouse. Did you know that before joining Price Waterhouse, she worked as a salesgirl at Habitat, which is a home decor store in London regent Street? Her dedication and hard work made her won a bottle of Moet and Chandon Champagne due to the highest recorded sales during Christmas.
She also worked with BBC World Service and Agricultural Engineers Association in the UK. She and her family returned to India in 1991. In 2004, she joined Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), though her husband's family was completely pro-Congress. Let me tell you that before joining BJP, she was a member of the National Women Commission from 2003 to 2005. Nirmala became the BJP spokesperson of the party and came to be known as the voice and face of the party and held her own against political stalwarts in face-offs and TV debates.
She, in an interview once stated that given the opportunity or the platform, women have performed with gusto and there has been nothing lacking in their performance. She has always actively spoken about women empowerment and gender equality, making the best use of her power as a country’s active politician. The quality of her, which I admire the most is how she continues to do her work to her best capabilities despite the accusations made on her regarding, she not being suitable for the role. She started her career from a position as small as a salesgirl and today is one of the most influential personalities in the India.
4. Monika Shergill - Vice President, Content - Netflix India
Shergill has been working in this industry for more than 20 years. Currently, she heads the series team for Netflix in India. Shergill has previously been associated with esteemed media houses like Viacom 18 Digital Ventures, Zee, Sony, and Star India Network. She has somehow managed to work with every entertainment giant in the country. I mean, that is commendable in itself.
As head of the non-fiction programming and strategy at Star, she headed the biggest network multilingual content project, the series, 'Satyamev Jayate' for Star Plus and nine other network channels. While at Viacom 18, she aided in the establishment of their OTT platform, Voot, and proved herself as a game-changer throughout.
Shergill’s journey has been pretty adventurous. She began her career as a journalist but she knew from the beginning that is not what made her happiest. Though she never considered herself a rebel, the hard work of her hometown inspired a young girl to follow her dreams and instincts early on in life. She always wanted to tell stories. This is how eventually she stepped into the content world and then there was no looking back.
The reason why I have chosen her story for my blog is her ability to trust her instincts and make the right decisions at right time for her career. She is very confident in living life, the way her heart desires. The advice that she truly spreads to young aspiring girls is to believe in your story. Believe in yourselves. Every girl must believe that she can be whatever she wants to be and the rest will follow.
Monika is one woman who believes winning at life and successful careers are both very smooth if you know to listen to your true self. We complicate success and the journey to it. While she makes it so simple to comprehend and yet so significant with her golden career success.
5. Avani Chaturvedi - First Indian Woman to fly a Fighter Jet
She became the first Indian woman in Indian Air Force history to solo fly the MiG-21 Bison, a fighter plane. Avani’s achievement has put India on the list of countries like Britain, the United States, Israel, and Pakistan, where women are allowed to fly fighter jets for their countries. The first flying woman officer of India belongs to Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. She got her name registered in history, by being among the first batch of three women officers who were commissioned as fighter pilots in the IAF in June 2016. She flew solo in a MiG-21 Bison fighter aircraft over Jamnagar Air Base on February 19 for around 30 minutes becoming the first woman to do so.
Her story is quite well-known to all so I need not mention more. My reason to admire her lies in what she believes for women. After being in the combat role of the air force and flying the aircraft, she realized that there is nothing that a woman cannot do. She preaches the same to other women now. She comes from a simple middle-class Bhopal family, had had all the basic resources while growing up, and a normal upbringing. This speaks aloud that it is only the rigorous training and passion for your dreams that will take you to heights. You need not have a struggle story or face your worst times or be a destiny‘s child to achieve extraordinarily.
6. Merin Joseph - IPS Officer
“If one woman can inspire a few other women, then they, in turn, can inspire others. It all boils down to the initiative of a single individual and rather than blaming the system, one can actually try to effect changes.” the lady believes.
Cases of rape, eve-teasing, and other crimes against women are a routine affair in India. Amidst such surging instances, Merin has done something commendable. The cop in Kollam, Kerala, Joseph IPS, and her team traveled to Riyadh in order to nab a person suspected of raping a minor girl in India, then fleeing to Saudi Arabia after committing the act. There are a huge bunch of cases piling in the country against such inhuman crimes, Merin showed what a true IPS officer does.
A few years back, a media house did a story where an article mentioned beautiful IPS officers of the country and Merin was one in the list. She strongly opposed the idea of women being judged based on their looks and beauty. She trended on social media. Eventually, people started knowing about the courage and achievements of Merin. From her training to cases being successfully solved, Merin Joseph has lots of stories.
Merin decided in the 6th standard that she wanted to join civil services. She dreamt of being an IAS but could make it to IPS. Despite not reaching where she wanted, she didn’t compromise on her will to serve the country with her sincerest duties. I, absolutely adore that quality in her. She is one true example of wherever life plants you, bloom with grace.
7. Muthayya Vanitha - ISRO’s Rocket Woman
Vanitha is an Indian electronics system engineer who has led projects on satellites at the Indian Space Research Organization. Currently, she is the project director of the Chandrayaan-2 lunar mission of the ISRO. Vanitha led a group of ace women scientists who made India's second interplanetary mission possible through sheer dedication and perseverance. The project director, who was born in Chennai, has dedicated 32 years of her life and learning to the India Space Research Organization (ISRO). Her father was a civil engineer and her mother an electronics and communications engineer. Vanitha worked tirelessly to make India the fourth country to make a soft landing on the moon. Her only resolve was to do it at a fraction of the cost incurred by the contemporaries of ISRO.
Apart from Chandrayaan-2, Vanitha likewise played a crucial role in the launch and success of Mangalyaan in November 2013. She has also served as deputy project director for Cartosat-1, Oceansat-2, and Megha-Tropiques satellite telemetry and communications divisions in the Digital Systems Group at ISRO and worked as deputy project director for TTC-baseband systems.Vanitha is someone who defines simplicity for me. She is far away from the discussions of gender inequality. She believes to put utmost dedication into work. She is a true Indian at heart and in her lifestyle and someone who will always contribute to the pride of the nation and also be proud of the nation at the same time.
8. Neena Gupta - Actress
Boldness and Honesty personified is what Neena Gupta is. To watch her interviews, Instagram platform, or movies everything is just savage. Neena is that celebrity who has accepted and opened about all that she has done wrong in life and what has been done wrong to her. As a result of it faced defamation but all. Her confidence, personality, spirit to live life, and self-acceptance has been non-negotiable to her always. It is okay for a woman to make mistakes or wrong decisions, what is not okay to not let that mistakes define you or your future.
Versatile actor, who has done some amazing work in TV and Cinema. To describe her story in few words. Neena at a very young age got married to Amlan Kusum Ghose. She was a student then. In her autobiography, Sach Kahun Toh, Neena wrote about her short-lived first marriage and the reason why it failed. She said that while Amlan Kusum Ghose expected her to ‘eventually settle down and focus on family, she was a bit too ambitious and did not want to be tied down with domestic duties. In one interview, she said that she married Amlan only to travel. “My mother was so strict that it was such a big thing to go out with boys for a trip. That was a very childish thing to do but I was childish,” she said. Though Neena admitted her decision was ‘childish’, she has no regrets. “I don’t regret it. It was part of growing up. That was me and it was okay. It was a very stupid thing to do but at that time, everybody is stupid,” she said.
The actress later fell in love with legendary West Indies cricketer Sir Vivian Richards. Vivian was married at that time having two children. He never had marriage on cards with Neena hence she at 30, was a single mother out of a marriage. Neena faced immense opinion to her face during this period but continued her pregnancy because she said she was attached to Vivian still. All her life she has been an excellent single mother to her child who today is one of the renowned Fashion Designer of India Masaba Gupta. Netflix has a series on her childhood and life called ‘Masaba Masaba’ which was extremely well received by the audience.
In 2008, she married Vivek Mehra, a CA from Delhi. At 42, she found the love of her life, and now is living happily ever after. It is okay for women to have made wrong decisions regarding their relationships. Women should not be expected to be perfect all the time. Don’t live a life predefined by society in general. Create your own story of life, unedited, unfiltered, stand by yourself, and cease anybody to disrespect you or dim your light.
9. CA Rachana Ranade - Finance and Stockmarket Educator - Youtuber and Founder
Recently, on September 14th, 2021, India became the 6th largest stock market in the world with a Market Capitalization of $ 3.4055 trillion. In the 6th largest stock market of the world, women form only 20% of active traders. That is a gap Rachana pays attention to and encourages women to step into this sector. She has 10 years of experience in teaching more than 10,000 students in person and more than 1,000,000 students online, she is driven to change the scenario of financial literacy and stock market participation in India. On Youtube, she began her journey in 2015. Currently, she has 2.99 million subscribers on her channel and some of her popular uploads have received 17M views as well. She encourages students and women to learn and gain insights on finance so that they can be independent. In many homes even today, finance is the matter of the patriarchal head of the family or all men. Rachana strongly recommends women break that stereotype and learn finance to manage their own.
A lot of women who are earning themselves, making money, still handover it to their brother or husband or father or a male friend to make investments, assuming finance is complicated. Rachana teaches finance in the simplest way ever. Anyone can understand finance and stock markets from her youtube channel and begin their own trading and investments safely. Rachana has made the best use of the platform Youtube to help everyone be independent by merely making their money work instead of them.
We have more influential women around us that we cease to acknowledge. Every woman has some unique qualities that make her inspiring in her own unique way. Look for them around and be a one!
Happy Navratri, Ladies!