A.Arundhati Roy–a)winner of 1997 ”Man Booker Prize
for Fiction”, awarded to her novel,”The God of
Small Things.” and b)Sydney Peace Prize(2004)for her
involvement in environmental and human causes.
Anandi Gopal Joshi(first Indian woman doctor).
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan (Indian film actress. She won the
Miss India and Miss World pageants of 1994.)
Aditi Gowitrikar-Indian model, actress and a doctor. She won
Anna Chandy-first female High Court Judge.
Akka Mahadevi was a prominent figure of the Veerashaiva
Bhakti Movement of the 12th century Karnaraka. Her vachanas
in Kannada, a form of didactic poetry are considered her
most notable contribution to Kannada Bhakti literature.
Abbakka, the Jain queen of Ullal known as the ”Pepper Queen”
or ”The queen of Spices”, was the first Indian to fight the
war of independence in 1546, even before Rani Lakshmi Bai.
She defeated the Portugese fleet which had surrounded her
small coastal principality.
Annie Besant was described as a ”Diamond Soul”, for,she
had many brilliant facets to her character. She was a prominent
British socialist, Theosophist, women’s rights activist, writer,
orator and supporter of Irish and Indian self rule.
Attimabbe, a Jain lady, known as ”Dana Chintamani”, was a
well known personality of the Kalyani Chalukya period in Karnataka.
Ranna, a great poet, wrote ”Ajitha Purana”(the biography of the
second thirthankar Ajitnath of Jainism) under the patronage of Attimabbe.
She had 1,000 copies made of poet Ponna’s ”Shanti Purana”
(biography of 16th thirthankar Shantinath of Jainism).
Ahilya Bai Holkar(1725-1795), the warrior queen of the Maratha ruled
Malwa kingdom.The philosopher queen was famous for justice.She built many
Hindu temples and Dharmashalas(free lodgings).
Aruna Asaf Ali(1909-1996), a freedom fighter is widely remembered for
hoisting the Indian National Congress flag at the Gowalia Tank Maidan,
Bombay, during the Quit India Movement in 1942. She was called
the ”Grand Old Lady” of independence movement in her later years.
She was well known for her Spartan life style; she used public transport.
She was awarded Bharat Ratna, posthumously in 1997.
Anne Rajan George-First woman I.A.S. officer.
Arati Gupta-the first Indian woman from Asian continent to cross the
Asima was the first woman Doctorate of Science(in chemistry).
Angela Merkel-Chancellor of Germany.
Anuradha K. Bhagavati–Executive Director of SWAN(Service Women’s Action Network.)
Asha Bhonsle–Playback singer in Bollywood.
Anuradha Paudwal-Playback singer in Bollywood.
Amelia Mary Earhart(July 24,1897 to July 2,1937)was
the first female pilot in the world to fly solo across the
Atlantic Ocean. She was an American aviation pioneer
B.Bachendri Pal(the first Indian woman mountaineer
to climb Mount Everest on 23 May 1984)
Benazir Bhutto was Pakistan’s first and to date only
female Prime Minister.
Begum Hazarat Mahal,the queen of Oudh, was the first wife
of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah.She took active part in the defence
of Lucknow against the British.She rebelled against the
British East India Company, during the Indian Rebellion
Belawadi Mallamma,known as the warrior queen of Belawadi,
(Belgaum District, Karnataka) was the first woman to form
a women’s army to fight against the British and the Marathas
in 17th century.
Cornelia Sorabji-Lawyer(1892); first female graduate from
Bombay University and first woman in the world to read law
Captain Lakshmi Sehgal was one of the lion hearted women
India ever had.She picked up the Gun for the Indian National
Army, founded by Netaji Subash Chandra Bose. She fought like
a tigress in the jungles of Burma against the British. She was
a medical student when she joined freedom struggle and
immediately after independence,restarted her medical practice
in Kanpur, amongst refugees and the most marginalised section
C.Chennamma, queen of Kittur(she is known for her
fight against the British East India Company in 1824)
Chennamma, heroic queen of Keladi,( in the Shimoga district of
Karnataka) during 17th century, fought with the Mughal army of
Emperor Aurangzeb. The battle ended with a friendship treaty.
She is much revered in Karnataka as an icon of bravery.
Cleopatra VII was the last pharaoh of ancient Egypt and
daughter of King Ptolemy XII. She used her beauty to entice
two of the world’s most powerful men to keep her empire
free of Roman control. She also had to overcome the
Egyptian society that did not accept females as sole
rulers withot male guidance.
Chand Bibi, widow of Sultan Ali Adil Shah I, was an Indian
woman Warrior.She was an example of all that is noble and
brave in the human spirit. She was a contemporary of Emperor
Akbar.She acted as the Regent of Bijapur,Ahmednagar and Gondwana.
She is a historical figure and well known for defending
Ahmednagar against the Mughal forces of Emperor Akbar.
D.Durga Bai, queen of Gondwana,refused to surrender to
Moghul Emperor Akbar. She was injured in the battleground
and killed herself with a dagger.
D.K.Pattammal(1919-2009) was a prominent Carnatic musician
and a play back singer for film songs in many Indian languages.
She along with her cotemporaries, M.S.Subbulakshmi and
M.L.Vasanta kumari popularly are referred to as the ”Female
Trinity of Carnatic Music.”
Durba Banerjee-Airline pilot.
Devika Rani, popularly known as the first lady of Indian cinema
and winner of Dada Saheb Phalke Award(1969), was the wife of
legendary artist Dr.Svetoslav Roerich(Russian painter).
E.Elizabeth II(Head of State of the U.K. and 15 other
Ela Bhatt, a Gujarathi woman, started the ”SEVA”(=Self
Employed Women’s Association) of India and helped more
than a million poor women to move to a position of dignity
and independence. She was awarded ”Ramon Magsaysay Award”
(1977) and ”Right Livelihood Award”(1984).
F.Florence Nightingale, the ”Lady with the Lamp” was
a philosopher of modern nursing and social reformer. She
tended to wounded soldiers during the Crimean war.
Farah Khan(Indian film director and choreographer)
G.Gayatri Devi(Rajmata/queen of Jaipur.)
H.Hema Malini( Bollywood film actress
of yester years).
Helen, the beautiful daughter of Zeus and queen of Sparta,
was the most inspired character in all literature, ancient
and modern. The abduction of Helen, wife of Spartan king
Menelaus, by the prince Paris of Troy, triggers a long war.
Since many died in the war she was surnamed ”Lady of Sorrows.”
Helen Keller(1880-1968) was an American author, political
activist and lecturer.She overcame the adversity of being
blind, deaf and mute to become a role model for millions of
people of all ages, who were blind, to develop independence.
She was the first disabled person to earn a Bachelor of Arts
degree in 1904. Her first book was ”The Story of My Life”
She published ”Out of Dark” in 1913.This was a series of
essays on socialism and people came to know about
her political views.She visited 39 countries in 5 different
continents.She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and
The Lions Humanitarian Award.Anne Sullivan was the tutor,
assistant and life-long friend of Helen Keller.She helped Helen
to become one of the most respected woman in the world.Helen
Keller taught the world to respect people who are blind and deaf.
Harita Kaur Deol-First Indian woman pilot in the Indian Air Force
on a solo flight in 1994.
Homai Vyarawalla-first woman photo journalist of India.
Helena Petrovna Blavatsky-founder of Theosophical Society.
I.Indira Gandhi, (the 3rd and the first female Prime Minister of India.)
Isabella I, queen of Spain,(1451 to 1504) financed Christopher
Columbus’ 1492 voyages that led to the opening of the New World.
She was granted the ”Servant of God” by the Catholic Church in 1974.
Indra Nooyi is an Indian American business executive and current
chair person and C.E.O. of purchase-based Pepsi Co.
J.Jumpa Lahiri(Indian American author who won the
(2000)Pulitzer Prize for fiction and novel,”The Namesake.”)
Jijabai,was the mother of Shivaji, founder of Maratha
Empire. The life of Jijabai, is no less inspiring
and takes a proud place in our history.She was educated,
able and wielded great authority. She brought up her son
with a love of liberty infused in him. She had him learn in
detail lessons from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.
He learnt about the holy scriptures,arts of administration,
weaponry and the political situations in the land.
She infused in Shivaji such a spirit that was to emerge
with great force throughout his life.
Joan of Arc, nicknamed ”The Maid of Orleans” is a folk
heroine of France and a Roman Catholic Saint.
K.Kiran Bedi(India’s legendary woman cop)
Kalpana Chawla, the first Indian American astronaut
and first Indian woman in space.
Kasturba, wife of Gandhiji, known affectionately as ”Ba”(=mother)
was a devoted wife and an affectionate mother.Her motherhood
extended to the thousands who came to Sabarmati Ashram. Her death
anniversary (22nd February is celebrated as ”Matru Diwas”(Mother’s Day)
and her birth anniversary is celebrated every year on 11th April
as ”National Safe Motherhood Day.”
Kamaladevi Chattopadhyaya, the Many splendoured Figure, was born
in Mangalore, Karnataka. She was an actress, social worker, youth leader,
freedom fighter, women’s movement organizer and chair person of
post-independence craft council. She launched the Indian National Theatre
as a means for the national movement to find expression and as an
instrument of educating the people and spreading awareness of values
in them while reviving the nation’s cultural heritage.
Kamaljit Sandhu-Asian Games gold medal winner.
Koneru Humpy-the Indian woman chess Grandmaster(2002).
Kadambini Ganguly and Chandramukhi Basu-First Indian women graduates(1883).
Kanchan Chaudhari Bhattacharya-First Indian female Director General
Kamini Roy-leading Bengali poetess, social worker and feminist from
India.She was the first woman honours graduate in India.
L.Lata Mangeshkar(the best known and one of the most respected
playback singers in India.)
Lakshmi Bai,queen of Jhansi(1835-1858) was the great heroine of
First War of Indian Freedom of 1857.She was the embodiment of
patriotism,self-respect and heroism.The British East India Company
denied the adoption of a heir by the queen according to Doctrine
of Lapse.She could not overpower the British forces but she fought
till her last breath. She laid down her life for the sake of freedom.
Lady Diana Spencer, was the first wife of Charles, the prince of Wales.
She was well-known for her fund raising work for inter-national
charities and as an eminent celebrity of 20th century.
Leila Seth(1991)-First female Chief Justice of a High Court
M.Marie Curie, the Polish Physicist and Chemist to discover
the mysterious element radium and winner of Nobel Prize in
Physics and Chemistry.
Margaret Thatcher,(1925 to 2013) known as the ”Iron Lady”
was Britain’s first female Prime Minister.She served 3 consecutive
terms in office.
Maria Montessori(1870-1952) was an Italian physician and educator,
a noted humanitarian and devout Roman Catholic, best known for her
philosophy of education that bears her name and her writing on scientific
pedagogy. Her education method is in use today in public and private
schools throughout the world.
Menaka Gandhi(Indian politician; animal lover)
Mother Teresa was an ethnic Albanian Indian Roman Catholic nun.
She founded ”Nirmal Hriday”(=pure heart), a hospice for
the sick,destitute and the dying in Kolkata.She also
established a leper colony, hospice and centres for the
blind,aged and disabled.Government of India honoured her
with awards like ”Bharat Ratna” and ”Padma Shree.”
Nobel Peace Prize was also awarded to her.
Mata Amritanandamayi(Amma) is a Hindu spiritual leader,
revered as a saint by her followers and widely respected for
her humanitarian activities.
M.S.Subbulakshmi was a renowned carnatic vocalist. She was
the first musician to be awarded the ”Bharat Ratna” and
”Ramon Magsaysay” awards.
Meera Bai was a princess from Rajasthan.She was a devotee
of Lord Krishna and one of the most significant sant of the
Vaishnava Bhakti movement.Some 1,300 Bhajans(devotional songs)
are attributed to her.
Medha Patkar,a popular social activist, is known for her active
role in ”Narmada Bachao Andolan”(save the river Narmada movement)
a social movement against the building of Sardar Sarovar Dam across
the Narmada river.She is the recipient of 1991 Right Livelihood Award.
Mahadevi Varma(1907-1987), best known as an outstanding Hindi poetess,
was a freedom fighter, women’s activist and educationist from India.
She is widely regarded as the ”Modern Meera.” She was the first woman
to be awarded the ”Sahitya Academy Fellowship” in 1979.She received
the Jnanapith Award(highest litrary award) in 1982.
Meira Kumar – the first woman Lok Sabha Speaker (India)
Mamata Banerjee-First woman Railway minister of India.
Meera Sahib Fatima Biwi-The first Indian woman Judge in Supreme Court.
N.Neha Tripathi(India’s top woman professional golf player.)
O.Oprah Winfrey.(American media proprietor, talk show host
Onake(=pestle) Obavva,(wife of a guard of a watch tower in
the rocky fort of Chitradurga) was a brave woman of Karnataka
during the 18th century. She noticed the enemies (soldiers of
Hyder Ali) who were trying to enter the fort of Chitradurga,
through the hole and single-handedly killed the soldiers one
by one with a pestle.
Pratibha Patil-First woman President of India.(2007)
Panna Dhai(Panna=emarald; Dhai=wet nurse), a 16th century Rajput
woman and nursemaid to Udai Singh, the fourth son of Maharana
Sangram Singh I,(king of Chittorghar) was a symbol of extra-ordinary
loyalty.Rana Sangram Singh died in 1527, in the battle of Khanua
against Babur.Panna saved child Udai Singh from Rana’s brother who
wished to usurp the throne.She substituted her own baby in the
royal cradle.Her child was slain. She cried a lot but she was
proud that she kept the shine of Mewar alive. She escaped to
Kumbhalgarh with the baby prince.After Udai Singh attained the
youth, he defeated his uncle and became the king of Chittod and
later founded the city of Udaipur.
P.Bandopadhyaya-the first woman Air Vice-Marshal.
Q.Queen Laxmi Bai of Jhansi.(the leading figure of the Indian
rebellion of 1857. She resisted the rule of the British East
India Company in India)
R.Razia Sultana, daughter of Ilthumish was South Asia’s first
female Muslim ruler. She was excellent administrator, talented,
wise, brave and a great warrior. She encouraged poets, painters
Rani(queen) Padmini, a legendary beauty, was the queen of Chittor,
and second wife of king Rawal Ratan Singh.Allauddin Khilji, Sultan
of Delhi,made attack on Chittor to obtain beautiful Padmini, by force.
The king Rawal Ratan Singh died (1303CE) fighting and Rani Padmini
performed act of self immolation(jauhar).
Rekha(Bollywood actress of yester years.)
Rukmini Devi Arundale(1904-1986) was an Indian theosophist, dancer,
choreographer of the Indian classical dance form of Bharatnatyam
and also an activist for animal rights and welfare. She established
Kalakshetra, an academy of dance and music at Adyar, near Chennai.
She Married George Sydney Arundale, the third President of Theosophical
Society.She features in India Today’s list of”100 People Who Shaped India.”
She was awarded ”Padma Bhushan” in 1956 and Sangeet Natak Academy Fellowship
Reita Faria was the first Asian to win the title ”Miss World”(1966)
Reena Kaushal Dharmshaktu-the first Indian woman to ski to the
S.Sania Mirza-a professional Indian tennis player.She was named
one of the ”50 heroes of Asia” by Time in October 2005.
The Economic Times, in March 2010, named Mirza in the list of the
”33 women, who made India proud.”
Savitribai Phule-First Lady Teacher.
Sonali Banerjee-First Woman Merchant Navy Officer.
Suzanne R.D.Tata-First woman to drive a car in India(1905).
Sucheta Kadethankar- First woman to cross Gobi desert(2011).
Sucheta Kripalani was the first woman Chief Minister of U.P.
(Uttar Pradesh) in India.
Serena Jamika Williams is an American Professional tennis player.
The Women’s Tennis Association has ranked her World No.1 in singles
on 6 seperate ocassions.
Sirimavo Bandaranaike (Sri Lankan Prime Minister) was the world’s
first woman Prime Minister.
Sarojini Naidu, known as the ”Nightingale of India”, was a child
prodigy and poetess.She was the first Indian woman to become the
President of Indian National Congress and the first woman to become
the Governor of an Indian state, Uttar Pradesh. She was one of the
framers of Indian Constitution.
Shantala Devi, the loving queen of Hoysala king Vishnuvardhan,
was a great Bharatnatyam dancer and musician.Vishnuvardhan, inspired
from the dance poses of Shantala, got sculpted 42 Madanikas(stone beauties)
in the temple of Chennakeshava at Belur,Karnataka, in 12th century A.D.
Queen Shantala was a devout Jain and King Vishnuvardhan was a
Vaishnava follower.However, she set a precedent of religious tolerance
in the kingdom.
Subhadra Kumari Chauhan is an Indian poetess, famous for her emotionally
charged Hindi poems.
Sujata Manohar-first woman chief justice of High Court(Bombay).
Swarnakumari Devi-first woman writer in Bengali to gain prominence.She
was a novelist, poetess, musician and social worker.
Saina Nehwal is an Indian badminton player who attained a career
best ranking of 2 in December 2010 by Badminton World Federation.
She is the first Indian to win a medal in Badminton at the Olympics.
Sharada Devi is known as Holy Mother among the devotees.
She was the wife and spiritual counterpart of Shri Ramakrishna
Parama Hamsa,a 19th century mystic of Bengal.
T.Tanushree Dutta(Indian actress,winner of Femina Miss India
Universe of 2004)
U.Usha.P.T.(sports woman of yester years)
V.Vaijayanti Mala(dancer and actress)
Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, sister of Jawaharlal Nehru, was the first
Indian woman to become the President of the U.N.General Assembly.
She was also the first Indian woman to hold a Cabinet post in India.
She became free India’s first woman ambassador to the Soviet Union
from 1949 to 1951.
Valentina Tereshkova, Soviet cosmonaut was the first woman to
travel into space.
Vani Jairam is a prominent female playback singer. She has thrice
won National Film Awards for best female playback singer.
W.Winona Ryder(American actress)
Wangari Maathai was the first African woman to receive the
Nobel Peace Prize for her contribution to sustainable development,
democracy and peace. She founded ”Green Belt Movement” focussed
on the planting of trees and women’s rights.
X.Xena(a fictional character-warrior princess)
Y.Yukta Mookhey (Miss World,1999)
Z.Zeenat Aman(Bollywood actress,Miss Asia Pacific,1970)
Zubeida-first actress of Indian talkie cinema-”Alam Ara”.