15 Amazing Females Who Hold The Title of “The First Indian Woman”

Every year, the 8th of March is celebrated as Women’s day. In today’s world, women have shed their role of staying at home and taking care of the family – which has been something that was forced upon Indian women for the past centuries.

Here is a list of inspirational women who were the first Indian women to make history in their chosen field of work:

1. The First Indian Woman to win an Oscar

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Thirty years ago on April 11, 1983 costume designer Bhanu Athaiya made history when she won the Best Costume Design award at the 55th Annual Academy Awards for Lord Attenborough’s “Gandhi”. Born on April 28, 1929, she became not only the first Indian woman to win an Oscar, but also the first Indian to do so. She also won two National Film Awards in 1991 and 2002.


2. The First Indian Woman to win an Olympic medal

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At the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, weightlifter Karnam Malleswari marked her place in Olympic and Indian sports history. During her career spanning 10 years, she has won 11 gold and three silver medals besides the prestigious Olympic bronze, which made her the first Indian woman to win an Olympic medal. She has been the National Champion for nine years.


3. The First Indian Women to become Doctors

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Anandi Gopal Joshi (left) (31 March 1865 – 26 February 1887) and Kadambini Ganguly (right) (18 July 1861 – 3 October 1923) were the first two Indian and South Asian women to obtain a degree in Western medicine in 1886. Anandi Joshi is also believed to be the first Hindu woman to set foot on American soil.


4. The First Indian Woman in Space

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Kalpana Chawla (March 17, 1962 – February 1, 2003) was born in Karnal, India. She was the first Indian-American astronaut and first Indian woman in space. She first flew on Space Shuttle Columbia in 1997 as a mission specialist and primary robotic arm operator.


5. The First Indian Woman to scale Mt. Everest

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Bachendri Pal, born 24 May 1954 in a village in the Himalayas, is an Indian mountaineer, who on the 23rd of May 1984 became the first Indian woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest. She was a gifted student who came from a family of moderate means, and encountered stiff opposition from her family and relatives when she decided to opt for a career as a professional mountaineer rather than as a schoolteacher.


6. The First Indian Woman to become an IPS Officer

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Kiran Bedi , born 9 June 1949 in Amritsar, Punjab, is an Indian politician, social activist, former tennis player and a retired police officer. Bedi joined the Indian Police Service (IPS) in 1972, becoming its first woman officer.


7. The First Indian Woman to become the President

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Pratibha Devisingh Patil, born 19 December 1934, is an Indian politician who served as the 12th President of India from 2007 to 2012; She was the first woman to hold the office.


8. The First Indian Woman to become Miss World

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The first Indian to be crowned Miss World in 1966, the Mumbai-raised Reita Faria was one of the best known Indians worldwide in her times. Aishwarya Rai claimed the same crown in 1994 but, in the mid 1960s, Faria was much more than a celebrity.


9. The First Indian Woman to become President of the Indian National Congress

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Sarojini Naidu was the first Indian woman to become the president of the Indian National Congress and the first woman to become governor of Uttar Pradesh. She began writing at the age of 13.


10. The First Indian Woman to become a Judge

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Justice M. Fathima Beevi was the first female judge to be appointed to the Supreme Court of India in 1989, and the first Muslim woman to be appointed to any higher judiciary. She is the first woman judge of a Supreme Court of a nation in India and Asia.


11. The First Indian Woman to become Prime Minister of India

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Indira Gandhi, who served as the India Prime Minister from 1966 to 1977 and then again from 1980 until her assassination in 1984, is the second-longest-serving Prime Minister of India and the only woman to hold the office. Indira Gandhi was the only child of Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.


12. The First Indian Woman to become the Director General of Police

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Kanchan Chaudhry Bhattacharya was the first woman to become Director General of Police of a state and retired on 31 October 2007 from service. She was the second woman IPS officer in the country after Kiran Bedi.


13. The First Indian Woman pilot in the Indian Air Force

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Flight Lt. Harita Kaur Deol  was a pilot with the Indian Air Force. She was the first woman pilot to fly solo in the Indian Air Force. The flight was on 2 September 1994 in an Avro HS-748, when she was 22 years old.


14. The First Indian Woman to receive the Ashoka Chakra

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Neerja Bhanot  (7 September 1963 – 5 September 1986) was a flight attendant for Pan Am, based in Mumbai, India, who was murdered while saving passengers from terrorists on board the hijacked Pan Am Flight 73 on 5 September 1986. Posthumously, she became the youngest recipient of India’s highest civilian award for bravery, the Ashoka Chakra.


15. The First Woman Teacher in India…without whom women could not possibly be educated so much as they are today

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Savitribai Jyotirao Phule (3 January 1831 – 10 March 1897) was an Indian social reformer and poet. Along with her husband, Jyotirao Phule, she played an important role in improving women’s rights in India during the British rule. The couple founded the first women’s school at Bhide Wadai in Pune in 1848. She also worked to abolish discrimination and unfair treatment of people based on caste and gender.

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