Indian Women who defied Stereotypes

       “There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish.”

-Michelle Obama

Women have conquered most professions and broken stereotypes. Yet, there are some stereotypes remaining. Such as, women can’t do physically challenging tasks. But these vestiges are fast disappearing.

On the occasion of Women’s Day, we at Impact Guru celebrate Indian women who defied stereotypes.

Deepa Malik

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Sportswomen are common, but Deepa is one with incredible achievements despite severe handicap and debilitating medical condition. Deepa is a paraplegic, paralysed from waist down. A spinal tumour made walking impossible for her. The spinal tumour had to be operated, with 31 surgeries and 183 stitches. But that hasn’t stopped Deepa.

She won the silver medal in shot put at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio. She has also won international medals in swimming. Besides, she also holds the Asian record in javelin throw. As if that isn’t enough, she is licensed to participate in tough car rallies. She has won 18 international medals and 51 gold medals at national and state level.

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Kalpana Chawla

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Kalpana Chawla was an Indian – American space astronaut.  She studied Aeronautical engineering in Punjab, before pursuing higher studies in USA. She joined NASA in 1988 and became US citizen in 1991.

In 1997, she became first Indian-born woman to fly into space, when she flew on Space Shuttle Columbia. However she lost her life in her second flight in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster on February 1, 2003

She was posthumously honoured with the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, NASA Space Flight Medal and NASA Distinguished Service Medal.

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Rajani Pandit

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Rajani Pandit is a private detective and regarded as the first in Maharashtra and perhaps in India. She solved her first case when she was in college. She set up Rajani Pandit Detective Services in 1991. By 2010, her firm was handling 20 cases a month and employing 30 detectives. She says, “Fear is not a word in my dictionary.”

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Meenakshi Vijayakumar

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Meenakshi is the first Indian fire officer. She started her career in 1990. However she had to wait till 2003,  before it was decided that women officers could be included in fire service. She is the present Deputy Director of North Western Region in Tamil Nadu Fire and Rescue Services.

Meenakshi has trained more than 30 batches of fire officers from all over India. She has attended more than 400 fire and rescue calls. She has won Gold medal in shot put in the World Firefighters’ Games held in South Korea in 2010. She has also won Silver medal in shot put and Gold medal in Tennis, in the World Firefighters’ Games held in Australia in 2012.

Avani Chaturvedi, Bhawana Kanth and Mohana Singh

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Women pilots may be common, but women fighter pilots are rare. It is only in February 2016, that President Pranab Mukherjee announced that women cadets will be allowed in combat roles in all three services. Flying Officers Avani Chaturvedi, Bhawana Kanth and Mohana Singh were commissioned as India’s first three women fighter pilots in June 2016.

We hope to see more Indian women following in the footsteps of the most powerful women who changed the world by breaking the mould. Happy International Women’s Day!

5 Women whose Social Innovations changed the World

Social innovators in India are making progress against varied social problems such as the lack of high-quality education, limited access to clean water and hygiene, and inadequate nutrition. Some of these social innovators are woman entrepreneurs and are among the most powerful women in India. However, you maybe surprised at how young some woman entrepreneurs are.

On the occasion of Women’s Day, we at Impact Guru are celebrating successful women entrepreneurs whose social innovations have transformed the world we live in.

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Shalini Kumari

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Moved by the plight of her grandfather who was unable to use the stairs due to the limitations of his walker, 12 year old Shalini Kumari determinedly set about to rectify the situation.

She came up with the design of a walker with a spring and self-locking front legs. The user has to push the front legs of the walker on the upper stair and the rear legs rest on the lower stair which makes the walker stable and strong enough to hold the weight on it, enabling the user to climb the stairs.

This adjustable walker also has a foldable seat, a horn and a light attached to it. The walker can take up to 100 kg weight and can be adjusted to different environments.

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Shweta Sharma & Jaskiran Goraya

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These two Class 9 students from Jalandhar came up with the idea of putting a layer of liquid that degenerates the covering membrane and spoils the tablet after the expiry date. Shweta came up with the idea after discovering many expired tablets at her house and worrying that she might have consumed one at some point.

Jaskiran saw a TV serial in which an illiterate person gave expired medicines to a patient which worsened his condition. Jaskiran felt that she needed to find a technique to help an illiterate person find out if the medicine has expired or not. So her idea was to make the medicine box/packaging such that it changes colour once it expired.

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Remya Jose

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The pedal-powered washing machine cum exercise machine, featured in the film 3 Idiots, was inspired by the invention of 20-year-old Remya Jose from Kerala, which has also been showcased on the Discovery Channel.

During her 10th standard, her mother fell ill and her father was undergoing medical treatment. Remya had to change three buses while going to and coming from school and spent about two hours each way. As there was no washing machine at home, the chore of doing the laundry fell on her and her twin sister. Instead of wishing futilely for a washing machine, she decided to try her hand at making one during her vacations!

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Ajaita Shah

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Ajaita Shah spent the past eight years working in microfinance and clean energy distribution in India. Born in Scarsdale, New York, to Indian parents, Shah now lives in India full time.

She founded Frontier Markets in 2010 to provide more than 300 rural Indian villages with access to clean energy products, as well as training and services for those products. In lieu of a grid that creates equitable power distribution, she’s promoting the benefits of solar energy and making it easily available to people.

The achievement of these social innovators demonstrates the power of educated women. If we empower more women with education and opportunity, the list of their innovations is only likely to increase. In turn, these innovations could be key to finding solutions to problematic issues in India.

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Celebrating Women’s Day with 9 Women who Inspire Social Impact

In honour of Women’s Day on March 8th, Impact Guru proudly celebrates women, who have inspired social impact, and inspired women to be socioeconomic, and culturally independent. Each of these icons of empowerment has taught us that women have equal, and in fact greater potential to achieve anything they desire, and stand strong in the face of adversity. More importantly, they have been instrumental in providing a beacon of hope for social equality for women all over the world.

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Prarthna Desai

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She made it to the Forbes list of 30 under 30, for her work in the healthcare sector, where she is leading efforts to deliver medicine, and other medical facilities in developing countries, using drones. 

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Michelle Obama

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The first woman of colour to become the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama is a source of inspiration to many. During her time in the White House, she addressed several pressing issues in society, be it racial discrimination, poverty alleviation, or education, she has set the benchmark for a First Lady.

Nimko Ali

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For those who are unaware, Nimko Ali is a fierce fighter and campaigner against FGM (female genital mutilation). She is the founder of Daughters of Eve, which is a charity dedicated towards women who have been victims of FGM. More power to her!

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Angela Merkel

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The chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel has impacted the lives of millions of migrants, to whom she allowed refuge and protection in the country, during a very tense political climate. Her actions are an example of global unity and compassion, one that all can learn from.

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Malala Yousafzai

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There are few who haven’t had praises for her. Malala is a an important championer and activist of women’s education. Having grown up in an environment where women’s freedom has been suppressed, Malala emerged victorious through all odds, and even survived a bullet that was shot at her by a Taliban gunman. Her activities in encouraging education such as opening schools for women, children, and refugees, made her the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

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Laxmi Agarwal

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Laxmi is a brave victim and survivor of an acid attack. After being attacked in 2005, Laxmi didn’t lose hope, but instead chose to fight for the thousand of other women who have been victims of this heinous crime. Apart from setting up a foundation called Chhaon, for the victims, she even co-founded a cafe called Sheroes, which is run entirely by acid attack survivors.

Hillary Clinton

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The former First Lady of the united States, Hillary Clinton is also the only First Lady to run for the elections. She has been a huge source of encouragement for women world over, to participate in political activities, and stand up for influential leadership positions.

Geeta Phogat

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Punching down one gender stereotype at a time, Geeta Phogat is the first Indian female wrestler to qualify for the Olympics and win a gold at the Commonwealth Games. To have done it in a time where wrestling is seen as a sport only for men, especially in the cultural atmosphere that Geeta was raised in, she poses an important example for women to take up competitive sports.

Oprah Winfrey

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Oprah embodies the spirit of thousands of women of colour, who have fought in the face of poverty and discrimination, and abuse. Having emerged strongly through all of it, her philanthropic activities in human rights, continue to make a huge impact to people’s lives even today.

If you, or anyone you know, have a social initiative that empowers the life of one or more women, crowdfunding can help you achieve those dreams. Start a campaign with Impact Guru today!