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The Republic of ‘Her’: Writing the HS Pioneers handbook

By Sanhati Banerjee
March 12, 2022, Updated on : Sat Mar 12 2022 12:35:20 GMT+0000
The Republic of ‘Her’: Writing the HS Pioneers handbook
Presenting some of the best from the HerStory list of Indian women pioneers — disruptors, trendsetters and rule breakers — the agents of change, who are smashing sexism and scripting stories of rebellion and resilience in diverse fields.
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From the first woman truck driver, to the first ever women mine managers, to the first woman to fly a fighter aircraft solo, to Heavy Earth Moving Machinery (HEMM) operatorsWomen in spacetech, a sari-clad security service professional, India’s first female motovlogger, a woman Air India commander operating the world’s longest commercial flight, India’s first licensed fisherwoman, the first female cybercrime investigator, and women butchers…. Haven’t you met these incredible women yet?


This International Women’s Day week, YourStory’s HerStory (HS) is proud to bring together the stories of 30 such pathbreaking women in the HS Pioneers handbook. The list is by no means exhaustive but offers a glimpse into a shared sisterhood of strength, solidarity and success. 

HS Pioneers



For nine years, HerStory has been bringing you stories of women storming into the strongholds of patriarchy — the proverbial male bastions — to shatter stereotypes and take on jobs once considered taboo, or not fit for them. 


This year, the HS Pioneers Report comes on the heels of HerStory’s Women on a Mission 2022, being held on March 11-12, 2022. 


These pioneers are women who are first of their kind. From battling societal biases to age-old perceptions, these are challengers who have braved several odds to set precedents in their own fields.  


Role models for future generations 


However, their stories would remain incomplete with the catchphrases ‘first of their kind’, or even the ‘very first woman’ in their chosen field. Alongside breaking records, they are emerging as inspirational role models for future generations. They are the answer to the question: But no woman has done this before. They are an answer to each family, institution, company and custodian of patriarchy, raising eyebrows.

 

What distinguishes the HS Pioneers list is that it is not a corporate-only club. It flexes its muscles beyond the narrative of the urban brigade or strictly speaking the social media tribe to represent those from far and wide — to include stories of a stargazer-turned-air-commander to that of a local fisherwoman and a woman who wrote her own destiny from growing up in a Mumbai slum to working at Microsoft  — in the overarching narrative of change. 


It belongs to the world of changemakers who have ventured on to the field or the road, underwater or in fighter planes, to paramilitary forces, fintech frontiers, to reverse the status quo.  



It is time to be cheerleaders and allies of women with diverse ambitions, aspirations and dreams. 


Women are resisting the patriarchal narrative and how. Women are speaking up against the gender pay gap and sexual harassment at the workplace. Most importantly, women are also speaking against early marriage and motherhood as opposed to pursuing higher studies, a job and economic empowerment. And sometimes pursuing their passion even after marriage and motherhood. 

 

Turning the wheel in women’s narratives, these pioneers are paving the way for a future generation of disruptors. These are women who chose unconventional careers only to show how they can rough it out with physical strength and steely determination as well as mental faculties to persevere in their jobs. 


HS Pioneers is an initiative to celebrate their quest for love, independence and inclusion. 


As gender politics demands a nuanced understanding of diversity, where no dream is big or small, where a woman’s self-awareness is far more valued than any handed down notion of textbook empowerment, we believe women’s stories told by women themselves is a step forward. 


We at HerStory take great pride and joy in putting this together to steer a world where there are more and more such stories of courage and cheer. 




A shout out to the sponsors of Women on Mission Summit 2022, an Initiative by HerStory, by YourStory - BYJU'S, the presenting partner, and other sponsors - Kyndryl, Sequoia Spark, Zilingo, Atlassian, Akamai, Freshworks for Startups, and Netapp Excellerator.


Edited by Ramarko Sengupta