7 Women who Boldly Challenged the Social Conventions in India

Ankita SinghEvent Management

Be Bold for a Change!

This Women’s Day, we present to you the 7 most influential women in India who broke the traditional stereotypes & set a name for themselves. This day which is observed in countries across the world, dedicates its 24 hours in spotlighting those women’s successes. It is an honor & privilege to step out of your comfort zone & try something extraordinary to set a benchmark towards gender equality. The term “Gender Equality” will always be remembered for Sudha Murthy who once wrote an open letter to JRD Ratan Tata, questioning him why ‘Lady Candidates need not apply’ was addressed in their interview form. Likewise, few more women went ahead & questioned the conventional process & finally found a place for themselves. Here’s a list that highlights some of those success stories.

a) Lt. Punita Arora – India’s first woman Lt. General

Puneet arora

Lt General (Mrs) Punita Arora of the Army’s Medical Corps was the first woman Lt General of Indian Army. She joined Armed Forces Medical College, Pune in 1963 which was the second batch of the AFMC and she turned out to be the topper of that batch. She was awarded Vishisht Seva Medal by President of India for the efficient and prompt treatment provided to the victims of Kalu Chak terrorist attack, under her leadership while commanding Military Hospital, Jammu. She is first woman in India to hold the second highest rank i.e Lieutant General of Indian Armed Forces and the first Vice-admiral of Indian Navy.

b) Rajani Pandit – India’s first woman private detective

Rajani Pandit

Rajani was only 25 when she started her agency named Rajani Pandit Detective Services, in 1991. Today, she has a team of about 20 people and together they have solved over 75,000 cases. Being a woman in a field dominated by men was not easy. Rajani had to face several challenges for even the most basic things like getting ad space in a newspaper. Born and brought up in a middle class family in Thane, Rajani studied Marathi literature at Ruparel College. After that she took a temporary job and worked there for three months before setting up her agency. For Rajani, one of the most memorable cases she solved is the one in which she had to live in a stranger’s house as a servant for six months; at the end of this period, a murderer was arrested.

c) Sampat Pal Devi – Indian social activist for women welfare & empowerment 

Sampat Pal Devi

Sampat Pal Devi is the founder of the Gulabi Gang, an Uttar Pradesh & Madhya Pradesh based social organisation which works for women welfare and empowerment. She leads a group that has 270,000 members in both states. At age 16, she opposed a neighbour beating up his wife regularly and decided to show him his place when he threatened her for speaking up for his wife. She later came in touch with social activist Jai Prakash Shivharey who motivated her to fight for women’s rights and launch the Gulabi Gang in 1980. The women members wear Gulabi (pink) saris and arm themselves with bamboo sticks, which they use whenever they come up against violent resistance.

d) Mishi Choudhary – Indian Technology lawyer

Mishi Chaudhary

Mishi Choudhary is an Indian Technology Lawyer. n 2015 she was one of about thirty “young leaders” selected by the Asia Society. She is currently the Executive Director of Software Freedon Law Center (SFLC). It is a law firm that supports developers who make great software and give it away for free with liberal licensing terms, who as well don’t file for patents and who want people to innovate. She extensively supports innovation & not the monopoly of ideas & thus giving a battle against software patents. Thanks to her initiative that SFLC.in has been leading the efforts in India to protect the software industry and the start-up ecosystem from the dangerous implications of patenting software.

e) Mayanti Langer – Sports Journalist 

Mayanti Langer

Mayanti Langer is among the most popular faces in Indian sports broadcasting these days. In her current association with Star Sports, she has covered a number of major international sports events. Mayanti Langer’s cricket engagements started to increase in number as she was a host during the coverage of India’s 2013 Test series in South Africa on Ten Cricket. This was followed by an opportunity to cover the last season of the Champions League T20 and also play one of the hosts for Star Sports in the 2015 ICC World Cup.  During the 2016 VIVO IPL, Mayanti Langer has been the ‘Cricket Live’ show for the live streaming of matches on Starsports.com where she does analysis alongside former Indian and international cricketers. Langer has quickly established herself as a prominent name in the world of TV sports journalists and things are only going to get greater for her from here.

f) Roshni Sharma – Women Biker 

Roshni Sharma

Roshni Sharma has always been a bike and travelling enthusiast, and as a woman, she felt the need to set a better example for those trapped by social limitations and stereotypes. Her expedition meant visiting enthralling and diverse cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad, Jhansi, Manali, Leh, Srinagar, Jammu, Panipat and Delhi, just to name a few. Her journey took her through 11 different states over 14 days. Sharma defies all the stereotypes associated with not only women, but women from small towns unexposed to the glitz and glamour of India’s most urbanised cities. A lone wolf in the vast expanse of the country, between dhabhas and highway lodges, a few small accidents even, Sharma’s feat is reflective of what a woman on a mission can achieve.

g) Shatbhi Basu – Female Bar Tender

Shatbhi Basu

Shatbhi Basu was the first woman bartender in India who broke stereotypes by establishing herself in a male-dominant profession. James Bond’s famous one-liner, ‘Shaken, not stirred’ would relate better to Shatbhi Basu than anybody else. And not just because she is a famous woman bartender, but the one who shook the profession and blazed her own trails 34 years ago. It couldn’t have been easy working at a bar in the 80s, but Shatbhi swears that she did not have any unsavoury experiences. The big break for Shatbhi happened when she was appointed as a bartender at Mumbai’s Chopsticks restaurant. Finally in 1997, Shatbhi opened a bartending academy. Since then she never looked back. Shatbhi has designed many bars in India and abroad including some in Singapore, Lima and New York.