Five Amazing Indian Women Who Broke Gender Stereotypes

Last updated 9 Sep 2016 . 4 min read

When Mary Kom boxed her way to clinch the world championships title not once but five times, she put to rest the cliché that boxing is for boys--as did Geeta Phogat who was the first Indian woman wrestler to qualify for the Olympics. Their struggles have been no mean feat. And then, there are Kiran Bedi, Chanda Kochhar, Kiran Majumdar Shaw, Kalpana Chawla and others of the same legion who have challenged and shattered the stereotypes. We have celebrated their achievements and held them high as examples of changing gender stereotypes.

Click here to read more about women atheletes who have broken all barriers!

Yet, there are others who have quietly been doing the same out of passion or compulsions. Read more about a few of these women trailblazers:

Shantabai, the first female barber, was almost on the brink of suicide along with her daughters after her husband’s death in Hasursasgiri village in Kolhapure. It was the sabhapati of the village who intervened and suggested that she take up her husband’s profession. Although it was not easy, she managed to lead a respectable life.


Flagging an auto rickshaw, one would be surprised to find the driver to be a woman. And they are a growing breed, where the story began with Shila Dawre of Pune. From Chennai, Mumbai, Pune, Delhi and other cities, these women are scripting their life of independence instead of waiting for someone to take care of them. They have been jeered at, sneered and harassed by male drivers, but that hasn’t deterred them from continuing.

Next time you see a biker strapped in biking gear and riding the mean machine on the road with an elan, it could be one of the members of The Bikerni, an association of women bikers with chapters across the country. They have successfully completed expeditions across the country, and also to Ladakh--the ultimate test of grit--earning them a place in the Limca Book Of Records. Their motto is to empower women and make them realise that there is no space for gender binaries.

Want to read more about The Bikerni association? Click here!

How about TV jasoos Karamchand of yesteryears running behind Kitty while she unravels mysteries chomping on a carrot? Rajani Pandit is said to be the first female private detective of the country, who cracked her first case when she was in college. With over 75,000 solved cases to her credit, she is an example for pursuing passion, regardless of it being ‘suitable’ for women.

If you ever happen to pass by the largest truck stopover of Asia--Sanjay Gandhi Transport Nagar on the outskirts of Delhi--look out for AW-7 and you will find the only woman truck mechanic of India, Shanti Devi. She has never given two hoots about people’s reaction. Gauging the profitability of switching their tea stall into a garage at the largest truck depot, she has earned respect as an esteemed mechanic in the last two decades.

India loves Cricket. Click here to read about some of our nation's finest women cricketers.

Every such story is inspiring and a lesson in charting the course for the road less travelled, with dignity. These are stories that focus on the fact that no job or passion comes with a blue or a pink tag. What I took from their journeys is, the future is what you make of it!

Would you like to share similar stories about people who break all barriers? Send us an email on !

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Ilakshee Nath
Ilakshee Bhuyan Nath is a freelance writer having contributed to magazines both e-versions as well as print. She donned many hats as TV newsreader, anchor and voice over artiste, teacher, communication specialist before starting on writing while baby-sitting her two daughters. She is an avid traveller, blogger and spectator of life.

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