She Power – the rise and rise of women in 2015
With each passing year, more women break through the ranks with their individual or collective achievements. While on one hand, 2015 saw known faces like Sania Mirza reach the top, it was also a year when the “aam aurat” broke free of taboos such as those surrounding menstruation. We single out, in no particular order, some breakout accomplishments:
- Bhakti Shrama:: The Indian swimming scene reached new shores as open swimmer Bhakti Shrama became the youngest in the world to swim in the Antarctic Ocean covering 2.25 km in just 52 minutes in January’s freezing temperatures. She has already swum in all five oceans of the world, besides swimming in or across eight other seas and channels.
- Priyanka Chopra: Bollywood diva Priyanka Chopra gained international fame as a singer, and even made her debut in the US TV industry with a lead role in ABC action-thriller “Quantico”.
- Indian Women’s Hockey Team: The Indian women’s hockey team booked their tickets to the 2016 Rio Games this year, their second-ever qualification for the Olympics. The only time India qualified for the games was in 1980, where we finished fourth.
- Beno Zephine: Beno became the first 100 per cent visually challenged person to enter the Indian Foreign Services. Prior to this, the 25-year old was working as a probationary officer at the State Bank of India.
- Saina Nehwal: 2015 will be written as the golden year for Indian Badminton as Saina Nehwal became the first Indian badminton player to become World No 1. Saina also entered the finals of the All-England Championship and the World Championships for the first time, becoming the first Indian to achieve the latter.
- Pooja Thakur: Marching with pride, Wing Commander Pooja became the first woman to lead the ceremonial tri-colored Guard of Honour for US President Barack Obama on Republic Day at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
- J Manjula: Manjula was appointed the first woman Director General of the Defence Research and Development Organisation’s (DRDO) Electronics and Communications System cluster in September 2015. Previously, she has won the DRDO Award for Performance Excellence, and Scientist of the Year 2011.
- Manabí Bandopadhyay: She became the first transgender to be appointed the head of a college when she took over the reins of the Krishnagar Women’s college in West Bengal. Manabí is a professor and the first transgender person in India who has completed a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
- Sania Mirza: This turned out to be the best year for this tennis ace as she teamed up with Switzerland’s Martina Hingis. They ended the year with a 22-match winning streak and secured the No 1 ranking, on the way to 10 WTA Titles, including two Grand Slams.
- Breaking menstruation taboos: This year, we saw several men and women coming out in the open and initiating campaigns to break age-old menstruation taboos. One that especially stands out is when Kiran Gandhi ran a marathon during her period, without a tampon.
As the year draws to an end, we salute the spirit of these women and hope for an even better and more successful year. Here’s to women power.