Today, on International Women’s Day, let’s together celebrate the achievements and success of some women leaders who have not only inspired the world with their unique acts but have also brought a positive change in the society.
After reading about these legendary women, you’ll realize that if you want to contribute and bring a change to the society, you don’t need to be in a specific field, community, or environment. All you need is the passion and commitment to give back to society and bring a positive change.
Mother Teresa, nun and missionary
“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love”.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner (1979), Mother Teresa, spent her entire life tirelessly working towards her goal to bring a change to society. She had a simple philosophy, “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one”. She dedicated her entire life to charity and humanitarian work and is regarded as one of the most selfless people on the earth.
Diana, Princess of Wales
“Everyone needs to be valued. Everyone has the potential to give something back”.
Diana was a well-loved ‘people’s princess’ who used her celebrity status to help as many people as possible. She devoted her entire life to charity work and philanthropy. From working with AIDS patients to supporting the homeless to a campaign to ban landmines, whatever Diana did was truly inspirational. These famous words of Diana sum up her entire life – “Anywhere I see suffering, that is where I want to be, doing what I can”.
Mary Kom, Indian boxer
“When I started boxing, people laughed at me and said, ‘What can women do in boxing?’ I took it as a challenge. If men can do it, why can’t women? And I became a world champion before my marriage”.
Indian boxer, Mary Kom, is another inspiring legend who is a multiple record holder. She has won the Olympic Bronze Medal for India, the Gold for National Women’s Boxing India, Gold in Asian women’s Championship, and about 20 other medals including five World Championship titles. A mother of two beautiful sons, Mary Kom never mixed her professional and personal life. Her life has been a true inspiration and teaches all other women that being a mother doesn’t stop them from achieving their dreams.
Neerja Bhanot, a brave flight attendant
“Never criticize anything too strongly that you yourself face trouble in accepting it in times of ‘No Options.’ “
Neerja Bhanot was an Indian model and purser for the airline Pan American World Airways. She was shot and killed while saving the passengers on Pan Am Flight 73, which was hijacked by terrorists at Karachi airport in Pakistan on September 05, 1986. Bhanot is the youngest and the first woman recipient of the Ashoka Chakra Award – India’s highest gallantry award for bravery. If you’d like to learn more about Neerja Bhanot, check out this biopic that’s inspired by her life.
Arunima Sinha, the first female amputee to climb Mount Everest
“The real flight of this hawk is impending, right now this bird is yet to be tested. Though I have leaped the seas, the entire sky is remaining”.
At the age of 26, she is the first Indian amputee to climb Mount Everest. By climbing the Everest with only one leg, Arunima proved that if you have the passion and determination to achieve something, nothing can’t stop you. She has etched her name in history for her brave achievement, despite all odds. No wonder she was honored with the Padma Shri award in January 2015, which is the fourth highest civilian award in India.
Dr. Tessy Thomas, the missile woman
India’s missile woman Tessy Thomas is popularly known as the Agni Putri after she became the first women to lead a missile operation in the country. In January 2012, India’s then Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh was quoted as saying “Tessy is an example of a woman making her mark in a traditionally male bastion and decisively breaking the glass ceiling”.
We are hopeful that the life and story of the above women achievers will inspire you to pursue your passion and dreams and to stand up for what you believe in.
Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s First Female Prime Minister
Margaret Thatcher has the unique distinction of being the first female Prime Minister of Britain. Her uncompromising leadership style and strong economic policies earned her the nickname “Iron Lady.”
Margaret Thatcher graduated from Oxford University in chemistry but later on went on to become a Barrister. She also happened to be the fifth longest-serving Prime Minister of Britain.
Punita Arora, first Female Lt. General of the Indian Armed Forces
Punita Arora became the first woman to become the Lt. General of the Indian Armed Forces. She also was the first female Vice-Admiral in the Indian Navy. A qualified gynaecologist, she was chosen as the Commandant of the Armed Forces Medical College in 2004. The Indian Govt. has felicitated her with several awards in her 36-year career with the Indian Armed Forces. Some of the noteworthy awards include the Param Vishist Seva Medal, Sena Medal, and the Vishist Sena Medal.
Oprah Winfrey, Talk Show Host and Media Personality
Oprah Winfrey is a very popular American talk show host, media personality, author, and philanthropist. She is the most well-known for her talk show “The Oprah Winfrey Show”. It was one of the longest-running talk shows in the US that ran for nearly 25 years. Born to a single mother, Oprah was a victim of abuse in her childhood. She popularised the talk show genre and created her own network, Oprah Winfrey Network, in 2008. She is also associated with several humanitarian causes and has also been felicitated with a number of humanitarian awards. She was the first African-American person to be ever ranked among the Top 50 Most Generous Americans in 2004.
Hima Das, Athlete
Born in Assam, the daughter of a humble rice farmer, Hima Das was the first Indian athlete to bring home a gold in an international track event. Known as the Dhing Express, she took the gold at the IAAF World Under 20 Championships held in Tampere, Finland in 2018. She also set a new Indian national record by clocking 51.00 seconds in the 2018 Asian Games. She won the gold in the women’s relay race and a silver medal in the 400m individual event at the Jakarta Asian Games in 2018. Hima Das has also been conferred with the prestigious Arjuna Award in 2018.
Aung San Suu Kyi, Politician from Myanmar
Myanmar politician and leader of the opposition Aung San Suu Kyi is well known for her pro-democracy campaigning. She was put under house arrest for nearly15 years before being released in 2010 due to an international campaign demanding her release. Aung San Suu Kyi won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 and the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought a year earlier.
Indra Nooyi, Former CEO of Pepsico
Indra Nooyi is the former CEO and Chairman of Pepsico. She has consistently been featured in the 100 most powerful women in the world. Forbes had ranked her number 13 on The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women. Indra graduated from the University of Madras and later on went on to earn a Master’s degree from the Yale School of Management. CEOWORLD Magazine named her as “one of the best CEOs in the world” in 2018. She was conferred the prestigious Padma Bhushan by the President of India in 2007. She has also been awarded the CNN-IBM Indian of the year- Global Indian award 2019. Indra currently serves as a board member for the International Cricket Council and Amazon.
Saina Nehwal, Indian Badminton Player
Saina Nehwal is a professional Indian badminton player who has over 24 international titles under her belt. Born in Haryana, she attained the World Number 1 ranking in 2015, making her the only Indian female player to do so. She has represented India thrice in the Olympics and has also won an Olympic bronze. Saina is the first-ever Indian badminton player to have won an Olympics medal. Saina is also the only Indian player to have won the BWF World Junior Championship. Among other achievements, Saina is also the first Indian ever to win a Super Series title and win two singles gold medals in the 2010 and 2018 Commonwealth Games. She has been honoured with the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, Arjuna Award, and the Padma Bhushan in 2016.
Gita Gopinath, First Indian to Assume the Post of Chief Economist of the IMF
Gita Gopinath is the first Indian woman to be appointed as the Chief Economist of the International Monetary Fund in 2019. The role also makes her the Economic Counsellor the IMF and the Director of the Research Department of the IMF. Born in Kerala, Gita completed her MA degree from the Delhi School of Economics. She went on to get another MA from the University of Washington before completing a PhD from Princeton University in the USA. She is currently on a leave of public service from Harvard University where she is a professor of International Studies and Economics.
Sunita Williams, Astronaut
Sunita Williams is an Indian-American astronaut who formerly held the unique record of the most spacewalks by a woman. She also holds the record for the most spacewalk time for a woman at 50 hours and 40 minutes. Williams graduated with a BSc degree from the United States Naval Academy in 1987 and went on to complete an MSc degree in Engineering Management from the Florida Institute of Technology in 1995. She began her Astronaut Candidate training in 1998 at the Johnson Space Centre. She went on to join the Expedition, 14 crew, aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery to the International Space Station in 2006. She was also the first person ever to run a marathon in space in 2007.
Shahnaz Husain, Indian Entrepreneur
Shahnaz Husain is one of the leading Indian entrepreneurs who has revolutionised the beauty and skincare market in India. She is the founder of The Shahnaz Husain Group and has been internationally acclaimed for bringing Ayurvedic skincare to the global front. She was awarded the “World’s Greatest Woman Entrepreneur” award by Succes Magazine in 1996. Despite being married at the young age of 15, Shahnaz went on to become one of the leading names in the beauty industry of the world with hundreds of franchises all over the world.
Looking for more inspiration? Check out our self-motivation blogs.