We all have someone in our lives who inspire us, whom we look up to, especially from the public domain. We respect them and we admire them. They consciously or unconsciously impact our thinking and behavior. Many times, we act like them, talk like them or even dress up like them.
I am going to list five women from the public domain who have influenced me enormously. I find these women inspiring, progressive and authentic. I believe they are extraordinary achievers in their chosen fields and have been a catalyst for change. These women according to me are bold, beautiful and intelligent. I don’t know any of them personally. But I have read their books, articles and I have had the opportunity of hearing them at public conferences.
- Urvashi Butalia, Publisher and Co-Founder of Kali for Women and Founder of Zubaan Books
Urvashi Butalia is a much awarded and celebrated Indian feminist, publisher and vocal advocate of women’s rights. She co-founded Kali for Women, publishing house meant for books by the women, of the women and the women in 1984 and Zubaan in 2003. She is credited with creating a literary platform for women on a shoestring budget. She is deeply involved in the Indian women’s movement and has campaigned for marriage laws, inheritance, and dowry amongst others. Her primary area of interest is the partition and how it impacted the lives of women. She is a brilliant oral historian and a voracious writer. I have grown up reading her books and articles in various newspapers. The Other Side of Silence: Voices from the Partition of India is her path-breaking study on the partition. She has given an extraordinary human dimension to the event, which has often been ignored by the historian and researchers. She talks about individual experiences of women and how they were affected by this holocaust.
Oh, I forgot to mention, I have noticed that the lady usually wears black, the color I associate with passion, power, and knowledge.
2. Jaya Jaitly, former Indian politician, and Indian handicrafts patron
Jaya Jaitly is a promoter and expert in the field of India’s arts and crafts cottage industries. She is the Founder and President of Dastkari Haat Samiti, a national association of Indian rural craftsperson to enable them and to develop their skills to market their products in the global market. She has contributed immensely in the revival and sustenance of traditional skills and livelihoods of rural craftspersons. No wonder, the lady has the best collection of handloom sarees in India. She also helped in the formation of Delhi Haat which is a popular tourist spot for locals and foreigners. (my fav spot too!) She has authored and published numerous books on the crafts, arts, and textiles of India and was instrumental in the creation of unique map called Crafts Atlas of India.
She headed the Samata Party as its President but relinquished her position due to various controversies. In her recent memoir, ‘Life Among Scorpions,’ she pens the difficulties of being a woman politician.
3. Flavia Agnes, Women’s Right Lawyer
Flavia Agnes is a lawyer, passionate advocate and a legal expert on Indian women’s rights related to marital, divorce and property law. She is a prolific writer and writes extensively on women’s laws about minorities, domestic violence and, feminist jurisprudence. She is a practicing lawyer at Mumbai High Court and is the co-founder of the organization called MAJLIS, which provides legal help to destitute women on matrimonial issues. Flavia was tormented and abused as a young wife, and her personal life has left deep imprints on the incredible work she has done for women. As part of my university syllabus, I read Flavia’s book Law & Gender Inequality: The Politics of Personal Laws in India which explores the politics of women’s rights in India. It also examines and provides terrific insight into the personal laws of Hindus, Muslims, Christians, and Parsis.
4. Vidya Balan, Indian Film Actress
Vidya Balan is a beautiful, bold and daring actress in the Hindi cinema. She is responsible for changing the notion of Hindi film heroine as a sex bimbette. Vidya in contrast to other bikini-clad stars portrayed meaningful roles depicting strong Indian women, looking entirely comfortable and delightful with her strong Indian roots. She defied all rules and conventions and made Indian look cool. She has always put a brave front in front of the media, regarding her weight and dressing sense. But I think she looks ethereal and a goddess in cotton sarees and kanjivaram silks. Statement necklaces and earrings provide extra oomph to this diva. She has garnered widespread praise for her work in movies such as Parineeta, Paa, Dirty Picture, and Kahaani.
She embodies the idea of quintessential Indian beauty and sexuality with her full body and long black hair.
No doubt, she is one of the most accomplished and talented actresses.
5. Anuja Chauhan, Indian Author
Anuja Chauhan is an advertising professional turned fiction writer with an eclectic dressing sense. She has worked with some of the top brands like Pepsi, Kurkure, Mountain Dew and Nokia, creating memorable and famous advertising slogans. As a writer, she is known for The Zoya Factor, Battle For Bittora, Those Pricey Thakur Girls, The House That BJ Built, and Baaz. She is one of the leading chicks lit writers and her writing is as bubbly, colorful, youthful and chunky as her clothes.
Do share your thoughts on the kind of women you like to celebrate!