Avani is from the first batch of three women officers who were commissioned as fighter pilots in the Indian Air Force.
With #PressforProgress being this year’s theme for International Women’s Day, we acknowledge and laud the feats these women from across the country have achieved for themselves.
A top-class bowler
All-rounder Jhulan Goswami has become the first female cricketer to take 200 ODI wickets. “The best part is that these wickets came at a crucial time for us, whenever we needed a breakthrough; so it was for a winning cause and nothing gives me more satisfaction than being a part of the winning side. My team members have been of great help without which I couldn’t have come this far. We share great camaraderie and enjoy each other’s successes, and that’s the reason why all the players are able to perform,” states Jhulan.
The player continues, “Personally, I feel my conditioning has been the secret to my success. The fitter you are, the better you can perform. This extensive training helped me come out of a slump. I always feel proud to play for the country, which is such a great honor and that’s why I enjoy every moment of my career.”
In a world where women are considered physically weak, 24-year-old flying officer Avani Chaturvedi has shattered all stereotypes by becoming the first Indian woman to fly a fighter aircraft solo. After finishing her schooling, Avani completed her bachelors in technology from the reputed Banasthali University in Rajasthan. Reportedly, she is highly inspired by her brother, who also serves in the Indian Army. Avani is from the first batch of three women officers, including Bhawana Kanth and Mohana Singh, who were commissioned as fighter pilots in the Indian Air Force in June 2016.
In December last year, visually-impaired athlete Kanchanmala Pande became the first Indian to bag gold at the World Para Swimming Championship in Mexico. Originally from Amravati district in Maharashtra, she secured the top spot in the 200 metres medley event in the S-11 category. After the win, Kanchanmala said in one of her interviews that even though she had prepared well for the championship, securing the top position came as a surprise. Prior to this championship and at the time when she was supposed to participate in a para swimming event in Germany, Kanchanmala was seen begging on the streets of Germany as the sanctioned government money wasn’t transferred to her.
Majiziya Bhanu created history recently when she became the first woman from her state to win the Mr Kerala bodybuilding competition while sporting a hijab. Wearing a burkini and a proud smile, the 23-year-old simply stunned everyone as she stepped onto the stage. While she initially wanted to pursue a career in boxing, she soon shifted to powerlifting as she had braces at the time. And that changed her life!
Majiziya was declared ‘Strong Woman of Kerala’ thrice by the Kerala Powerlifting Association. She also won the silver medal at the Asian Powerlifting Championship in 2017. She was later inspired by Egyptian women bodybuilders and trained and enrolled herself for the bodybuilding competition. The high-spirited woman shares, “Right from school, I was into athletics and was fascinated by boxing and weightlifting. I live in a village where not even men train in powerlifting. Once I finished school, they gave me the freedom to pursue anything I liked as long as I found the time to study. So, I got in touch with my brother’s swimming instructor and asked him if there was anything interesting like boxing or weightlifting under the sports council anywhere in Kozhikode. From there, I was introduced to a boxing instructor, who recognised my capacity to get involved in something challenging and suggested that I try powerlifting.” Majiziya has proved yet again that anything is possible if you work hard towards it.
Shital Rane- Mahajan
The Pune-based adventurist and Padma Shri recipient set a new record by becoming the first Indian to skydive from a height of 13,000 feet wearing a nauvari or the traditional nine-yard sari. She shares, “I wanted to do something for the Marathi community, so I felt a skydiving act done wearing a nauvari sari would be unique. I wanted to prove to the world that Indian women are capable of anything if they are given an opportunity.”
She adds, “Being a mother of two, I want to inspire women. I have skydived in all the seven continents and have made 17 national and six world records. The world is progressing and women are transforming lives by playing vital roles in every sphere of life, and women empowerment is the current hymn.”
A young seed
While most kids her age are busy playing and finishing their homework, 13-year-old Aanya Soni has become the youngest Indian to be selected for an expedition to Antarctica. The teenager, a student of Class VIII at the Sahyadri School in Pune, cares deeply about the environment and is among the 80 chosen ones from across the globe for ‘Climate Force: Antarctica 2018 Expedition’. Since Aanya is a minor, she will be accompanied by her mother Pratibha on the trip.
By joining the expedition, Aanya is set to become a part of a vast global movement comprising international change leaders. She will also be connected to thousands of Climate Force/IAE alumni in over 100 countries, which will give her access to a diverse set of ideas and resources on climate change.
Just a couple of days ago, Haryana’s Manu Bhaker brought home the gold in the Women’s 10m Air Pistol final at 2018’s first International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup staged in Mexico. Says the winner, “This was my first participation in the world cup and I am extremely thrilled about the feat! I remember pushing myself, talking a lot to myself to re-gather my thoughts during the last shot. I guess my never-say-die attitude helped clinch the medal. It’s important to have a good start to the new season and nothing can be a better motivator than a win. The fact that I took up the sport only two years ago makes it more thrilling. I tried my hand at a different sport earlier, but my parents always stood beside me like pillars of support.”