''If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman'' - Margaret Thatcher
The women in India have for centuries fought against culture-specific issues within the Indian Patriarchal society. Even though the feminist movement has evolved over the years, women still seek gender equality at work, the right to work for equal wages, the right to equal access to health and education. In the mid-19th century, the feminist movement focused on speaking about women’s rights, reforms in education and customs involving women. It later was incorporated into women’s movements and gradually #women organizations began to emerge. Post-independence the focus moved to the workforce, the domestic front, and the rights to a political party.
“No one can give us power. If we aren’t part of the process of taking it, we won’t be strong enough to use it.” ― Gloria Steinem
Women in India have had to fight off being victims of child marriage, dowry harassment and the practice of sati. Despite all the progress, women still face numerous issues of discrimination that is gender based and still must bear with several forms of abuse. That is why we need to celebrate women, because of the adversities they face. Despite all the challenges, to come out shining like a diamond, requires grit and a lot of inner strength.
So, who do we celebrate today?
Ever since the Earth formed about 4.5 billion years ago, numerous women have strived to make a difference to the world around them. Many of them left an unforgettable legacy. Who can we celebrate today? It is important to acknowledge our ancestral sisters who paved the way for other women. If it were not for their incredible vision and enterprise, would there have been any progress in the feminist movement?
In retrospect history has doled out some remarkable women, making incredible changes in the way the world worked. Jane Austen had her legacy in the pages of her books. Florence Nightingale transformed the quality of healthcare world over. Emmerline Pankhurst fought long and hard to get women the right to vote. Mother Teresa who worked with the poorest of the poor. Margaret Thatcher, our Iron Lady, the first female British PM. Amelia Earhart taking her flight over the Atlantic Ocean. Anne Frank, who gave us a peek into her diary, giving the world a visual of the holocaust. Ella Fitzgerald, the first African American woman to win a Grammy. Indira Gandhi the first woman Prime Minister of India. Reita Faria Powell who put India on the beauty map with her historical win. The list goes on. Women carving their place in history, creating a space at the table for other women.
“In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.” - Coco Chanel
It is a difficult choice to choose one woman to celebrate today. The pendulum of choice oscillates between Oprah Winfrey and Malala Yousafzai. Maria Montessori and Helen Keller. Then we have Michelle Obama and Kamala Harris. Then there's Priyanka Chopra and there’s PV Sindhu.
Extraordinary women have sprouted the world over like mustard over a yellow field.
Nevertheless, here are 3 lesser-known stories of women who left an incredible legacy for the world.
Savitribai Phule - The first female teacher of India
Savitribai Phule is remembered for her vital role in championing women rights in India. She had the support of her husband Jyoti Rao Pule, who helped her build one of India’s first girls’ schools in 1848 in Pune. She is one of the first women to break the shackles of patriarchy to become a teacher at a time when girls were not allowed to attend school. She is also regarded as the first female teacher of India.
She made a significant impact on the lives of women during her time. She successfully opened 3 schools for girls. She opened a shelter for pregnant women to deliver their children and for widows. She also welcomed kids who were put up for adoption. She was a strong advocate against child marriage and opposed the Sati tradition. She played an active role in raising awareness about widow remarriage.
Krupabai Satthianadhan – The first woman novelist in India
The first woman novelist in India to write in English. It was in Chennai, (then Madras) that she found and flourished her talent for writing. Her novel was the first piece of Indian writing read by the Empress of India, Queen Victoria.
Having lost her father and brother too early, she turned towards saving lives. She came to Chennai to study medicine in 1878 at Madras Medical College. She was outstanding in her academics. Unfortunately, she contracted Tuberculosis while interacting with patients and was forced to leave the hospital. During her recuperation she lived as a boarder at the Reverend’s house at the Zion Church. The Zion church was then located on the banks of the Cooum river. It was there that the journey of the first English novel written by an Indian Woman began.
Nilima Ghose’s run at the Olympics - the first female participants in the olympics
She was born in 1935, Nilima Ghose was destined to be the first Indian woman to participate in the Olympics. She was almost 17 when she was selected to be part of the Indian contingent for the Summer Olympics in 1952. She took part in two events – the 100 metres sprint which she finished in 13.8 seconds. The 90 metres hurdles she finished in 13.07 seconds. Though she did not win any of these events. She made history and paved the way for other women.
Every woman should be celebrated every day. A celebrated woman lends the world to a happier place. At Learner Circle we encourage all women to celebrate themselves everyday by trying to develop themselves through learning something new or unlearning an old habit. Our online courses are curated to help kids and adults all over the world to pursue their passion and chase excellence. Our courses like art, music, singing, dance , abacus, coding and sketching focus on cognitive skills and overall development of the child. A chance for everyone to create history and carve their niche into the world.