Meet the 10 most influential Indian women who are visionaries in their fields of work and inspirations to all.
Even today, women in India are constantly bogged down by several societal stigmas and barriers that hinder their path to success. From rampant patriarchy and sexism to discrimination, violence, sexual harassment, poverty, and education made inaccessible, Indian girls and women are faced with several grave issues.
While a lot needs to be done to empower women across the country, it helps to have these trailblazers and influencers for motivation; women who have achieved their goals and more, against all odds.
Meet the top 10 Indian movers and shakers of 2017, who are inspirations in every sense of the word.
Hailed as the most powerful businesswoman in India, Chanda Kochhar, Managing Director and CEO, ICICI Bank, is best known for shaping retail banking. She believes strongly that the Indian workforce needs more women in key positions and is an advocate for women continuing up the career ladder post childbirth. A pioneer in the field of finance, she has been an epitome of effective leadership, steering her firm to win many accolades. At the recent Global Entrepreneurship Summit, she prescribed 3 ‘E’s – Education, Empowerment and Encouragement – to boost aspiring women to achieve their goals.
Indian Minister of External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj has turned the way politics is conducted on its head, giving grace, goodwill and sensitivity prime importance in the exercising of her powers. Known as India’s favourite politician, she has connected directly with the commoners through social media and has, on countless occasions, extended help to those seeking it from both within India and beyond borders.
The actress needs no introduction as she journeys around the world making music, films and more importantly, a mark as a champion of women’s empowerment and child rights. She has raised her voice against body shaming, sexual harassment in the workplace, and subtle and blatant racism. She has worked closely with UNICEF for over 10 years and, as their Goodwill Ambassador strives to remedy the harsh conditions faced by children living in poverty-stricken and war-torn regions.
Roshni Nadar Malhotra
Executive Director and CEO, HCL Corporation, Roshni Nadar Malhotra is responsible for strategising the overall direction of the organisation and has been involved in brand planning and CSR. She is an activist for children’s empowerment. As the trustee of the Shiv Nadar Foundation, she focuses on making education accessible to children across India and has established schools and colleges to make this possible.
Entrepreneur par excellence, the Chairman and Managing Director of Biocon Limited Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw has spearheaded the organisation’s evolution from an industrial enzymes manufacturer into an integrated bio-pharmaceutical company. Known as India’s most generous biotech billionaire, she has been giving away half her income annually as part of the Giving Pledge with an aim to make quality healthcare accessible and affordable to all across the globe.
As Chairperson and Editorial Director of Hindustan Times Group, Shobhana Bhartia is one of the most powerful women in the field of media and journalism in India. She is the first woman chief executive of a national newspaper. She is also credited with giving The Hindustan Times a makeover with a young feel. Under her leadership, HT Media’s tutoring arm Studymate has begun coaching students for entrance exams to enrol in India’s top engineering schools.
Dr Urvashi Sahni
Founder and Chief Executive of Study Hall Education Foundation (SHEF), Dr Urvashi Sahni is a social entrepreneur and women’s rights activist. Through SHEF, she has helped establish schools for underprivileged students, including Prerna Girls School. She has also founded DiDi’s, which employs 65 Prerna graduates and their mothers, in order to generate sustainable livelihoods for women and Suraksha, a women’s rights organisation, among others.
Cricketer and captain of the Indian Women’s Cricket team in Tests and ODI, Mithali Raj is truly one to watch in the world of sports. She is the highest run scorer in international women’s cricket and has led the Indian team to ICC ODI World Cup Finals in 2005 and 2017. At the recent Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Hyderabad, she made a bid for the upgradation of sports infrastructure and facilities in schools so as to encourage more girl students to play sports.
Tulika Kiran is a project manager with the India Vision Foundation Team at Tihar Jail. Apart from managing and supervising the beneficiaries’ regular activities and facilitating visits in jail, she has been teaching children in the Tihar prison. She is instrumental in seeking out rehabilitation facilities as part of the post-release programme to ensure that proper counselling and help is provided to inmates as they resettle into society.
Bollywood actress Dia Mirza has been a campaigner for environmental conservation for several years. From carpooling with her staff to shoot locations to ensuring her home is completely eco-friendly and helping clean up plastic waste off of beaches, she has been instrumental in promoting an eco-friendly lifestyle. She was recently appointed the UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador for India, a role that gives her more impetus to seek solutions to environmental problems faced across the globe.