According to the latest data of the World Bank published in 2019, the participation of women in India’s labour force stands at 21.8% lesser than countries like Lebanon (25%) and Libya (24.5%). The acceptance of women in India’s workforce and the weightage to her opinion has certainly increased as compared to the 20th century, India. The successful women in India both in terms of their participation and thought process continue to empower the society to bring change.
Being independent for a woman is hardly a matter of money but the fact that she can sustain herself by contributing her bit. This still doesn’t settle well with the orthodox households who treat them as a meagre childbearing machine as well as a house help. But times are definitely changing with the higher acceptance of women in the workforce and society, we are slowly but steadily heading towards a positive change.
The women of change have shown us the path towards equality, all we have to do is carve one of our own paths. Let’s talk about the famous women in India who are also the pioneers of development with their skillset and thoughts. Here’s a list of top 10 influential women of India:
1. Indra Nooyi
The recipient of Padma Bhushan (India’s third highest civilian award), Indra Nooyi was the initial wave of change in Indian society. She is a former CEO of PepsiCo and constant addition to the world’s most influential list. From battling traditional gender roles at home to crafting business strategies for Pepsi, Indra Nooyi’s biography is full of dedication. An alumnus of Indian Institute Of Management, Calcutta and Yale University, she serves on the boards of Amazon, Indian Cricket Council, and oilfield services company Schlumberger. Nooyi has also been an advocate for healthier foods and has led many initiatives at PepsiCo for the same, such as banning aspartame (a kind of sweetener) from Diet Pepsi.
2. Barkha Dutt
A triple degree holder from Delhi’ St.Stephens (BA), Jamia Milia Islamia (MA), and Columbia University (MS), Barkha has always strived to bring the real facets of society through her tireless journalism. Her recent initiatives include detailing the struggles of migrant workers stranded due to the lockdown in India. Her efforts paid off after Uttar Pradesh government arranged buses to transport workers to their hometowns. She is personally a non-believer of religion. Barkha has also penned down a book for women called, “Nothing New?: Women as Victims”.
3. Zia Mody
Born in Mumbai, Zia is a distinguished corporate lawyer, championing in subjects such as mergers & acquisitions, securities, private equity, and project finance. She has constantly ranked first in Fortune India’s most powerful women in India list in 2018 and 2019. She has practised both in the United States as well as in India. Zia is the managing partner of her firm AZB & Partners which she established during 1984. Apart from her own influence on the world, Zia is the daughter of the former attorney general of India, Soli Sorabjee.
4. Hima Das
Hima Das made news by being the first Indian woman athlete to win a gold medal in a track event at the IAAF World U20 Championships in 2018. Originally from Assam, Hima is also known by her nickname Dhing Express, given in light of her hometown named Dhing in Assam. By not seeing any future in women’s football in India, Das changed her direction to Sprinting. She is also the recipient of Arjuna Awards (An honorary award for sports champions) received by the President of India in 2018.
5. Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw
With a net worth of $3.1 billion, Kiran Mazumder Shaw is an epitome of hard work and dedication. She founded her venture Biocon Limited in 1978 and led its successful IPO in 2004. Her ambition lied in being a doctor but she couldn’t pursue it further due to not obtaining a scholarship. Her vision of ‘affordable innovation’ has led Biocon to many pioneering inventions in biopharmaceuticals. She has distanced herself from the word ‘philanthropy’ and continues to address the root problems of society through various means in education, healthcare, hygiene, medicine, etc.
The first Indian woman commando trainer of India, Rao has broken has many shackles of beliefs held by the society for ‘strong woman’. She has trained special forces of the Indian army without compensation for over two decades. Seema holds an MBA degree in crisis management and belongs a family of freedom fighters. She is also the recipient of World Peace Award by World Peace Congress held in 2008.
8. Saalumarada Thimakka
Aged 108, Saalumarada is also known as Alada Maradu Timakka. She gained recognition worldwide through her noble work of planting 8000+ trees during her lifetime. She received the Padam Shri Award by the president of India in 2019. She has a dream of constructing a hospital in her village in India. A U.S. environmental organisation based in Los Angeles and Oakland, California called Thimmakka’s Resources for Environmental Education is named after her, says Wikipedia.
9. Chitra Ramakrishna
Former Managing Director and CEO of National Stock Exchange (NSE) in India, Chitra started her career as a chartered accountant in 1985. She was one of the five candidates who were handpicked by SS Nadkarni of Industrial Development Bank of India to set up NSE in 1990. She was also involved in laying the initial frameworks of Securities & Exchange Board of India (SEBI), India’s capital market regulator.
10. Susmita Mohanty
A serial space entrepreneur and an atmosphere activist from India, Susmita’s work has been notable in space exploration. She leads India’s first private space venture, Earth2Orbit in 2009. She has visited both Arctic and Antarctica, one of the few people to do so. Her father was a former ISRO scientist. She remains an influential and powerful woman in India for her contributions to space research.