List of First Ladies in India (Pioneers in their fields)
The history of Indian women is full of pioneers, who have broken gender barriers and worked hard for their rights and made progress in the field of politics, arts, science, law etc.
Let’s celebrate the many ‘first’ times that an Indian woman achieved something great.
There are 22 Indian women who were the ‘firsts’ in their field:
- Anandibai Gopalrao Joshi
Anandibai Gopalrao Joshi became the first Indian female physician in the year 1887. She was also the first Indian woman who was trained in Western medicine and the first woman to travel to the United States of America.
- Roshini Sharma
Roshini Sharma recently became the first Indian woman to ride a motorbike from Kanyakumari to Kashmir.
- Shila Dawre
Shila Dawre became country’s first woman auto rickshaw driver when she first stepped into the ‘male-dominated’ zone in the year 1988. Pune based Dawre wants to now start an academy for women interested in becoming trained auto drivers.
- Arunima Sinha
Arunima Sinha is the first female amputee to climb Mount Everest. She is also the first Indian amputee to climb the Everest. She was a national level volleyball player who was pushed from a running train by thieves in 2011 as she was resisting them. After meeting this accident, one of her legs had to be amputated below the knee.
- Reita Faria Powel
Reita Faria Powel is an Indian model, doctor and beauty queen, who won Miss World 1966 to become the first Asian woman to win the title. She also went on to become the first Miss World winner to qualify as a doctor.
- Arati Saha
Arati Saha became the first Indian and Asian woman to swim across English Channel in the year 1959. She also became the first female sportsperson to be awarded Padma Shri in 1960.
- Mithali Raj
Mithali Raj was the first woman to score a double hundred in Test Cricket (214* against New Zealand at Wellington, 2004). She was the first to achieve this landmark in the world.
- Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa became the first Indian woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. Mother Teresa founded many Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic religious congregation, giving her life to social work.
- Indira Gandhi
Indira Gandhi became the first woman Prime Minister of India and served from 1966 to 1977. Indira Gandhi was named as the “Woman of the Millennium” in a poll which was organised by BBC in 1999. In 1971, she became the first woman to receive the Bharat Ratna award.
- Pratibha Patil
Pratibha Patil became the first woman President of India and held office from July 2007 to July 2012.
- Kalpana Chawla
Kalpana Chawla was the first Indian woman who reached in space. As a mission specialist and a primary robotic arm operator, she went into space in 1997.
- Kiran Bedi
Kiran Bedi, joining Indian Police Service (IPS) in 1972, Kiran Bedi became the first woman officer in India. Moreover, later in 2003, Kiran Bedi also became the first woman who was appointed as the United Nations Civil Police adviser.
- Anjali Gupta
Anjali Gupta is the first female flying officer in the Indian Air Force to be court martialled. She used to work for the Aircraft Systems and Testing Establishment unit in Bangalore. Anjali completed her Masters of Philosophy in Sociology from the Delhi University and was first posted at Belgaum in 2001.
- Justice M. Fathima Beevi
Justice M. Fathima Beevi became the first female judge who was appointed to the Supreme Court of India in 1989.
- Sania Mirza
Sania Mirza, a professional tennis player, became the first ever Indian woman to win the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) title in 2005. Later in 2015, Sania Mirza became the first Indian woman to be ranked no. 1 in WTA’s double rankings.
- Saina Nehwal
Saina Nehwal became the first Indian women to win a medal in Badminton at 2012 Olympic Games. Later in 2015, she became the first Indian woman to secure no. 1 position in world rankings.
- Sarla Thakral
Sarla Thakral received the license for flying aircrafts when she was only 21 years old. She became the first Indian woman to fly an aircraft. After earning the license, she completed one thousand hours of flying an aircraft and became the first woman pilot to obtain ‘A’ license. She also achieved the title of the first Indian to get airmail pilot’s licence.
- Mary Kom
Mary Kom Mangte Chungneijang Mary Kom, also known as Mary Kom is the only woman boxer who has won a medal in each of the six World Championships. She was the only Indian woman boxer who qualified for the 2012 Olympics and became the first Indian woman boxer to win a gold medal in Asian Games in 2014.
- Bachendri Pal
Bachendri Pal became the first Indian woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest In 1984. Later, she led expeditions in 1993, 1994 and 1997 with a team comprising of only women in ‘Indo-Nepalese Women’s Mount Everest Expedition,’ ‘The Great Indian Women’s Rafting Voyage’ and ‘First Indian Women Trans-Himalayan Expedition.’
- Durga Banerjee
Durga Banerjee was the first Indian female pilot and captain of Indian Airlines in the year 1966. She was also the first woman ever to fly the ‘Tornado A-200’ aircraft.
- Harita Kaur Deol
Harita Kaur Deol became the first woman pilot to fly solo in the Indian Air Force, in 1994.
- Priya Jhingan
Priya Jhingan with a dream to be serve Indian Army, became the first lady cadet to join the Indian Army in 1993.