Stereotypes are generally about the person’s race, gender, sexual orientation, and other personal characteristics that shape how others perceive or interact with and make decisions about others. For decades, the way media has portrayed the groups of people, the popular culture which can result in discrimination against women and people of colour.
India’s history is punctuated by stories of several firebrand women who took the off-beat path and chose to live life on their terms. By breaking stereotypes, they helped promote gender equality that captured the stories of Indian women who are pioneers in their fields and left their mark all over the world.
Tapping into inner strengths is not easy. It takes tremendous courage and conviction to challenge outdated and unfair societal practices and conditioning. But, it can be done if women find their support groups to find strength in numbers. The younger generation is uniquely poised with the efforts of the past generation. They are more removed from age-old societal oppression and have better and more widespread access to education and opportunities. Even women in rural areas are now working, becoming well aware of society and helping other women find employment.
Women are finding more opportunities where they are open to working to achieve the heights that they have set for themselves. The choice is yours, you can take the initiative to help yourselves. The opportunities are vast and varied from becoming a bike taxi driver to cutting edge technology startups and breaking the boardroom glass ceilings.
Here are some women who broke stereotypes
Srisha Bandla – Indian-origin astronaut
Andhra Pradesh-born Bandla who believed in her dreams and made them come true will be one of the six space travellers abroad who will be taking care of the researcher experience on the Unity22 mission, It successfully reached outer space. The Telugu woman becomes the 3rd Indian-American woman to enter the space where she is part of a bigger project that opens up opportunities for the public who want to explore space as tourists.
Reita Faria Powell – First Asian Miss World winner and Physician
Born to a Goan family in Mumbai, Reita had a very simple middle-class life and never had a dream of leading a glamorous life. She was often approached for modelling because she was tall and had very attractive features to that of a model face. She had other goals in her life altogether, her interest lay in medicine that was pursuing in Mumbai. On the insistence of her friends, she enrolled herself on the Miss Bombay contest and went on to become Miss World and made a mark by becoming the first Asian woman to be crowned back in 1966. She went ahead and completed her studies to become a physician.
Arunima Sinha – First female amputee to climb Mount Everest
A former national-level volleyball player turned mountaineer, Arunima from Uttar Pradesh lost one of her legs, when she was thrown out of the running train for resisting chain snatching by thieves. Instead of giving up, she displayed exemplary self-belief and determination and decided to hike the highest peaks in the world. She became the world’s first female amputee to climb Mount Everest in 2013. She was honoured with the fourth highest civilian award, Padma Shri in India.
Mithali Raj – Captain for Women’s cricket team
Mithali is no stranger to fame. Born to a Tamil family in Rajasthan, grew up mostly in Hyderabad learning the basics of cricket. Today Mithali is the second most-capped player in ODI history and 3rd player in women’s history to lead the country in more than 100 ODIs. She was only 19 when she played 3rd test match, Mithali broke Karen Rolton’s record of the world’s highest individual test score.
Shakuntala Devi – Human Computer
Shakuntala Devi is famously known as ‘India’s Human Computer’ if you see she originally didn’t receive any formal education as a child but became the master of the most dreaded subject – Mathematics. At an early age, she began to deliver public performances to show her math skills and impressed the world with her incredible prowess in arithmetic. She entered The Guinness Book of world records by multiplying two 13-digit numbers in just 28 seconds. Well, yeah you read that correctly now let’s use that calculator to know the answer. She also wrote a book called The World of Homosexuals, the first Indian study of homosexuality.
India is paving its way towards modernization, gender roles are gradually changing with women no more being confined to houses. Indian women multitask – they are homemakers, decision-makers, able and skilled workers all rolled into one. Women are giving stiff competition to their male counterparts. It is said that women leaders are transformational as they function as role models and inspire their team and spend a lot of time coaching their team. Women bring skills, different perspectives, and structural and cultural differences that will drive perspectives and a sense of awareness. We also have some of the best Indian bike riders who have travelled on their bikes and shared their journeys. It’s not just the men who like to ride the bike and go on cross country trips on bikes, even women have achieved this feat.