First among equals: Women who led the way

Women in India are full of vigor, valor and vitality. By breaking the glass ceiling, they have created a niche for themselves in the field of politics, arts, science, law, medicine and many more. Overcoming all barriers, the movement for women’s rights has brought about great social changes world over.

On International Women’s Day, we remember those women who were the ‘firsts’ in various fields and have enriched the name of India in world forum.

Bachendri Pal –First woman mountaineer to climb Everest

Bachendri Pal became the first Indian woman to climb the Mount Everest in 1984. Later, she led the expeditions in 1993, 1994 and 1997 with a team of only women in ‘Indo-Nepalease Women’s Mount Everest Expedition’, ‘The Great Indian Women’s Rafting Voyage’ and ‘First Indian Women Trans-Himalayan Expedition’. She was only 12 when she first tried mountaineering with her school friends.

Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit – First woman president of UNGA

Pandit was the first Indian woman to hold a position in the UN General Assembly. She was also the first Indian woman to hold a cabinet post in pre-independent India. In 1937, she was elected to the provincial legislature of the United Provinces and was designated minister of local self-government and public health.

Sarla Thakral –First woman pilot

Sarla Thakral was the first Indian woman to receive an aviation pilot licence and fly an aircraft. She received it when she was just 21 years old. After earning the license, she completed one thousand hours of flying an aircraft and became the first woman pilot to obtain ‘A’ license. She also achieved the title of the first Indian to get airmail pilot’s licence.

Anandi Gopal Joshi – First female physician

Anandibai Gopalrao Joshi was the first Indian women to become physician in 1887. She was also the first Indian woman who was trained in Western medicine and the first Indian woman to study and graduate with a 2 years diploma in medicine in the US.

Reita Faria Powell –First female Miss World

A model and doctor, Reita Faria Powell was the first Indian woman to win Miss World title in 1966. She was also the first Miss World winner to qualify as a doctor. She was only 21 when she received the title and she was also the first Asian to do so.

Kalpana Chawla – First Indian astronaut in space

Kalpana Chawla was the first Indian woman to reach space in 1997. She first flew on Space Shuttle Columbia to space as a mission specialist and primary robotic arm operator. In 1988, she began working at NASA, where she did computational fluid dynamics (CFD) research on vertical and short take-off and landing (V/STOL) concepts.