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5 Indian Women Who Became Role Models Of Empowerment

Today’s young women are caught between generations, forced to choose from women who were housewives and those who had a full-time career. What they lack are role models of women who embody the principles of empowerment.

Here are 5 women of Indian origin, who became role models of empowerment when they decided to carve a niche for themselves in a man’s world.

  • Mother Teresa

    Mother Teresa

There is perhaps no more amazing Indian woman than Mother Teresa (now St. Teresa of Calcutta). Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, she is recognized as one the most selfless human beings in the world. In her honor many charities have been started in her name in over 123 different countries.

These charities work as hospices, homes for the dying, homes for those with HIV/AID and many other difficult diseases. Mother Teresa herself worked, walked, held and cried over the people that no one else would touch themselves.

She brought into light the suffering of many and challenged countless thousands to answer the call to defend the helpless in society. Mother Teresa was known for saying that the hunger for someone to love them is more difficult to overcome than the need for bread to feed their body.

  • Aishwarya RaiAishwarya Rai

Ms. Rai won the Miss World crown in 1994 and has been on the rise ever since. Aishwara certainly is glamorous and possibly one of the most beautiful working mothers today.

Madame Tussaud has fashioned a wax statue of her which is showcased in London. Even the Netherlands love her, where she has her very own tulip bearing her name.

Rai is the ambassador for the Eye bank association in India’s nationwide promotional campaign. This campaign is to raise awareness for eye donations in Indiana. She has been greatly involved in campaigns to help eradicate polio in India.

In other news Rai has gotten involved with the International Year of Microcredit, in an effort to raise awareness of the UN’s poverty alleviation efforts.

  • Kalpana ChawlaKalpana Chawla

She will always be remembered as the first Indian-origin woman to become an American astronaut. She was onboard the tragic flight of Columbia that ended in an inflight explosion February 2003.

For her service to the United States she was awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor. Chawla served on one other previous space flight also in the Columbia space vessel.

Many of the projects that Chawla worked and participated in can be found in various technical papers and journals.

  • Indra NooyiIndra Nooyi

India-born she attended IIM Calcutta and the Yale SO Management. Nooyi rightfully claimed the world’s attention when she became CEO of the world’s second largest corporation, PepsiCo.

Forbes has named her 4th on the 2008 and 2009 most powerful women in business. She has been named one of America’s Best Leaders.

Nooyi has 2 daughters and has been ranked and the 3rd most powerful Mom in the world.

  • indira gandhiIndira Gandhi

She served as the third prime Minister of India. She gained notoriety as she continued to serve for 3 consecutive terms, and then went on to serve an unprecedented fourth term. She was the only Prime Minister to declare a state of emergency to “rule by decree”.

To the end she was has also been the only prime minister to have been placed in prison for her decisions. Her arrest gained her great sympathy and popularity of many people.

Her life was cut short by her very own bodyguards in retaliation for ordering the army to enter the most famous Golden Temple to remove insurgents inside the temple.



Women Of Empowerment: 5 Inspiring Women Leaders In India

Women in India have proved beyond their capability and mettle beyond any doubt. Indian women have produced leaders who exude confidence and dignity. Here are some who have empowered other Indian women to be their best and made us proud.

  • Kiran Bedi

A symbol of courage and an excellent leader, Kiran Bedi has been a perfect example of the fearless Indian woman. Having been a lecturer of Political Science for 2 years at Khalsa College for Women in Amritsar, she joined the Indian Police Service in 1972.

She has braved some extremely difficult postings since, including Deputy Inspector General of Police in the insurgency prone region of Mizoram. During her term in the IPS, she has brought about several reforms in the areas of narcotics control and traffic management.

She has won many prestigious awards including the Ramon Magsaysay Award (1994), and the United Nations Medal.

  • Meira KumarMeira Kumar

Polite and charming, yet extremely reserved, the First Woman Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Meira Kumar, is a disciplinarian to the core. Kumar was a lawyer and a diplomat before being elected to the Lok Sabha first to the 8th Lok Sabha.

She was a Cabinet Minister in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment between 2004 and 2009. She is a strong proponent of women’s empowerment in India, having strongly opposed the dilution of the Anti-dowry law.

“Safety, dignity and equality of women are very important,” Kumar said while interacting with women journalists here. Questioned on her views on the dilution of 498(A), the anti-dowry law, which some sections of civil society argue is too harsh, she said, “I am not in favour of dilution of any law which is for the safety of women.” (Source: Deccan Herald)

  • Mother Teresa

Born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, the Late Mother Teresa was a beacon of light for empowerment and care for the poor. Her contribution to our country’s development has been indescribably immense.

She founded the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta , and for 45 years she tended to the poor, the sick, and orphans. She received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and the Bharat Ratna in 1980.

The Missionaries of Charity have homes and hospices for lepers, patients with HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, and also counseling centers in 123 countries around the world. After her death in 1997, Mother Teresa was beatified by Pope John Paul II and she came to be known as Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.

  • Bachendri PalBachendri Pal

The first Indian woman to scale the Mount Everest in 1984, Bachendri Pal is a picture of grit, determination and one who dares to dream.

She was born in a family of small means, and went on to first become an instructor of mountaineering and then to scale the Everest itself.

She continues to be active even today, and she is involved with the TATA Group, as the chief of the TATA Steel Adventure Foundation (TASF). She heads expeditions in the Himalayas organized by TASF for women.

  • P.T. Usha

The Queen of the Indian Track and Field, the “Payyoli Express” as she was nicknamed, is the trailblazer for women athletes in India. Her medal record in the Asian Games, and several other national and international events is proof of her fantastic career.

She was the first Indian woman to reach the final of an Olympic event by winning the semi-finals of the 400 m hurdles in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

At this event, she missed the bronze by 1/100th of a second. She was conferred the Arjuna Award in 1984, and the civil honour Padma Shree in the same year.


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What’s Your Definition Of Women’s Empowerment In India?

We like to think that women’s empowerment in India has a long way to go compared to Western nations. But when you look at women in Middle Eastern countries you really start to appreciate the gender equality that we have, meager though it may be.

The definition of women’s empowerment is actually different for different people, but there’s an underlying base that cannot change regardless of nationality, caste, color, or profession.

Look at a simple example. A young working professional who stays with her parents in law says, “We were planning to take a family vacation together, and when it came deciding where and when, I wasn’t even asked by my parents-in-law. I thought my opinion and convenience would matter too, but maybe I was wrong.”

Empowerment for Indian Women

The example above is a common scenario in a so-called empowered urban woman’s life. When you consider a 13 year old girl who was raped in a village in UP by her own uncles, you start to wonder what the definition of women’s empowerment would mean to her.

After her father’s death, her mother had planned to take her to and live in the nearby town, so that she could send her to school. But financial troubles meant fate had something else in store. So you see what I mean? To this little girl, women’s empowerment would have meant going to a primary school, and plain escaping rape.

Physical empowerment is something that women can only hope for. It’s ironic to see prostitution on one hand, and slut-walks being planned on the other. One cries out “empower us” while the other cries out to prove that we are empowered.

Butt-pinching, cat-calls and whistles in a bus, to the extreme case of rape and murder while stepping out at night in a city like Delhi or Bangalore are all proof to the fact that we have a long way to go to be assured of even basic safety. As per census data, between the years 2010 and 2011, around 8 million female fetuses have been aborted.

Intellectually, I think we are more empowered than women in many other countries. Indian women are choosing to study and carve their own niche in various fields. There is scope for enormous improvement in the field of education for the girl child.

A 24-year-old software professional says that when she and her manager had a discussion on growth prospects in the organization, he said “If you’re serious about your career, I think you should look at these options.” “I’d lost him at the ‘if you’re serious about your career’” she says.

Emotionally, the definition of women’s empowerment is again very blurred. Today, a lot of women choose their own partners and marry for love, but then do we see any fall in the number of stories that are reported about dowry related suicides or murders?

We’re not even sure if Madhur Bhandarkar asked Aishwarya Rai to quit the movie”Heroine” because of her pregnancy or she chose to leave on her own. Your thoughts?


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Leading Indian Business Women Confirm Participation At The Women In Leadership Forum In Mumbai This October 2011

Mumbai, July 25th 2011 – Leading business information group, naseba, has announced dates for the Indian edition of their global Women in Leadership (WIL) Series. It is returning to the country’s financial capital on October 13th – 14th 2011, and is being held at the JW Marriott in Mumbai.

WIL is a cutting-edge platform for businesswomen from all backgrounds, industry sectors and countries around the world. Amongst the delegates in attendance will be top Indian and global businesswomen, industry visionaries, leading politicians, knowledge thought leaders and entrepreneurs.

Women's conference

According to US corporate law firm Dickstein Shapiro: “Companies that increase the number of women in leadership roles have a competitive advantage. Compared with the median companies in their industries, organisations with a higher number of women executives performed better with respect to profits as a percentage of revenue, by a range of 18 to 69 percent.”

In line with the theme for this year’s conference: “My career – a cornerstone of my identity” – renowned personalities have been confirmed as speakers for the two days. These include: Naina Lal Kidwai, Group General Manager and Country Head, HSBC India; Sangita Singh, Senior Vice President, Wipro Technologies; Vibha Pinglé, President and Founder, Ubuntu at Work; Shahnaz Husain, Chairperson, Shahnaz Husain Group of Companies, and Marsha Gabriel, CSI Advisor and CEO, The Helping Hand Network /CSI Congress, South Africa.

Over the past few decades, women’s roles and their development in India have experienced tremendous change. They are venturing way beyond the traditional responsibilities of wife and mother, as a career is now an integral part of a woman’s identity.

The 2nd Annual Women in Leadership Forum India provides a suitable networking platform for businesswomen from across India and abroad, where they can discuss and celebrate their important role in today’s competitive society,” said Sophie Le Ray, CEO of naseba.

Official partners confirming their participation so far are Monster India, Radio City, Femina, and Business Wire India.

“We are very excited about this partnership,” enthused Priya Florence Shah, Editor of and a successful internet publisher. “I completely support this event and believe it is high time India’s women achievers had a platform of their own. We enthusiastically invite all businesswomen in India to be part of this.”

The forum culminates with the prestigious WIL Achievement Awards in partnership with Monster India. The ceremony recognises the achievements of prominent businesswomen and gender diverse organisations.

Media Contacts:

Mitha Ittycheriah, Marketing Manager

Email:; Tel: 080 3022 2017

Event Details:

Venue: JW Marriott, Mumbai, India

Date: October 13th – 14th

Log on to to register


naseba produces, promotes and hosts business summits, professional training courses and business exhibitions targeting executive level attendees across multiple industries. Each event is focused on re-education, networking and creating a deal-flow platform for all participating organisations. Whether it is raising capital, expanding to a new market, vendor sales contracts or sourcing a strategic partner, naseba facilitates and supports clients’ business development.

Our team of experts conducts extensive research in conjunction with recognised thought leaders to ensure that all events are relevant, timely and at the forefront of market and industry trends.

naseba collaborates with leading media, industry and local authorities, such as International Data Corporation (IDC), International Business Consultancy Group (IBCG), Saudi Trading and Resources Co. Ltd. (STAR Group Holdings), HIL International Lawyers & Advisers (HIL), International Herald Tribune, CNBC Arabia, Zawya, Council of Saudi Chambers, Asharqia Chamber, Abu Dhabi Health Authority, Ministry of Health – UAE, Ministry of Economy – UAE, Ministry of Environment and Water – UAE, Egyptian Ministry of Civil Aviation, Qatar Civil Aviation Authority, Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning – Qatar, Privatization and Investment Board (PIB) – Libya, Principality of Monaco, Singapore Tourism Board, Malaysia Airports Holding Berhad, Department of Civil Aviation – Malaysia and many others.

Since its inception in France in 2002, naseba has organised over 400 events and played host to 58,000 executive delegates globally. Operating from four strategically located offices, naseba has on-the-ground presence in Monaco, Cairo, Riyadh, Dubai, Bangalore and Kuala Lumpur.

For more information on naseba, please visit Chosen As Official Media Partner For The 2nd Annual Women in Leadership Forum India 2011

PUNE, July 18, 2011:, the top online magazine for women in India with a focus on career and business issues, has been chosen as an official media partner for the 2nd Annual Women In Leadership Forum to be held in Mumbai from October 13-14, 2011.

The Women In Leadership event is the brainchild of NASEBA, which produces, promotes and hosts business summits, professional training courses and business exhibitions the world over. WIL has been successfully groomed into a cutting-edge platform for businesswomen from all backgrounds, industry sectors and locations around the world.

Naaree logo“The purpose of this event is to provide a suitable meeting-ground and networking platform for businesswomen from across India and abroad to discuss and celebrate their important role in today’s competitive society,” says Mitha Ittycheriah, Marketing Manager at NASEBA.

The 2nd Annual Women In Leadership Forum will provide yet another opportunity for the stalwarts and rising stars of India’s businesswomen cadre to exchange information, create new business connections and make the most of the vast field of opportunity before them today.

The event will culminate with the prestigious Women in Leadership Achievement Awards, which recognise the achievements of prominent businesswomen and gender diverse organizations.

Among the confirmed speakers for the 2nd Annual Women in Leadership Forum India 2011 are:

• Naina Lal Kidwai, Group General Manager & Country Head – HSBC India
• Sangita Singh, Senior Vice President – Wipro Technologies, Healthcare, Life sciences and Services
• Marsha Gabriel, CSI Advisor and CEO – The Helping Hand Network /CSI Congress – South Africa
• Vibha Pinglé, President and Founder – Ubuntu at Work (Worldwide)
• Shahnaz Husain, Chairperson, Shahnaz Husain Group of Companies

“We are very excited about this partnership,” states Priya Florence Shah, editor of and a successful Internet publisher since 2001. “I completely support this event and believe it is high time India’s women achievers have a platform of their own. We enthusiastically invite all businesswomen in India to be part of this event.”

Venue: JW Marriott, Mumbai, India
Date: October 13th – 14th
Log on to to register

NASEBA produces, promotes and hosts business summits, professional training courses and business exhibitions targeting executive level attendees across multiple vertical industries. Each event is focused on re-education, networking and creating a ‘deal-flow’ platform for all participating organisations. NASEBA works in partnership with leading media, industry and local authorities such as Since its inception in France in 2002, naseba has organised over 350 events and played host to 52,000 executive delegates globally.

NAAREE.COM is an online magazine for career and business women in India. It aims to help the new Indian woman get in touch with her own needs, and achieve balance and harmony in all areas of her life. NAAREE.COM offers resources and information for Indian women to empower themselves, connect with other women, experience their feminine power and nurture themselves, in body, mind and spirit. It empowers the Indian woman to be proud of who she is and become a force for change in the world.

Sonia Gandhi, Indian political leader

Women Leaders In India: The Role Of Indian Women In Politics

India has had a woman Prime Minister, and a woman President, and women are entering politics in great numbers. But for Indian women looking for a career in politics the future is not that bright.

The participation of women in politics is not a new concept in India. The struggle for independence has seen many women revolutionaries playing an important role. The Freedom Movement led many women into the foray of politics and many of them made great sacrifices for the nation.

With the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act, Indian women got an equal share in the political administration of India.

They are not only part of local and state administration, but are coming forward to participate in national politics as well. They have achieved a very significant role in the Parliament as well.

But when we look at the actual statistics of the Indian woman’s participation in politics, a bitter truth emerges about the world’s largest democracy – that women are always underrepresented during elections and in party structures.

India is in the lowest quartile as far as the number of women in Parliament is concerned. According to the comparative data by an international organization, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, India ranks 99 in the world for women representation in Parliament.

At present, India has just 59 women members out of 545 members in the Lok Sabha, (lower house). In the Rajya Sabha (the upper house), there are only 21 female MPs out of the 233 members.

India lags behind other Asian countries, such as Pakistan, China, and Bangladesh. Even African countries, such as Rawanda and Mozambique have more representation with 56.7% and 34.8%.

In comparison to the national scenario, the Panchayati Raj, the fundamental of rural government, has brought in many more women leaders and participants. States like Karnataka had made women part of rural politics way before the Constitution made it mandatory. Other states, such as Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand have crossed 50 per cent seats in the panchayat for women.

The primary reason why women have not been able to play a significant role at the national level in Indian politics is because of dynastic rule. Women politicians struggle to find a better position in their party hierarchies.

It is interesting that Indian women leaders attained a clear leadership position only after they set up their own parties (Mayawati, Jayalalitha, Mamata Banerjee) and through the support of their husband or family or dynasty rule (Sonia Gandhi, Vasundhara Raje Scindia, Mehbooba Mufti, Shiela Dixit, Rabri Devi).

Another major problem faced by Indian women in politics in is implicit acceptance by the party rank, especially by males. The irony we face is that political parties create a hullabaloo over increasing the participation of women to 33 per cent by making reservations for them. But when it comes to giving election tickets to women leaders, they are rarely the first choice.

The problem that women in Indian politics face is that even if reservations are made for women politicians, they are not included in party policies. That fact defeats the entire exercise of creating reservations for women.

The country’s ruling Congress party is led by a woman leader and has been pushing hard for reservation for women. But the Congress party itself does not include more than 10 per cent of women members. The situation of women in Indian politics will not improve till we have made significant changes in the mindset and ideology of the Indian people.


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Women Empowerment In India: Still A Long Way To Go

Women empowerment in India means giving power to women – the power to help them make use of their rights, power to not to fall victim to any physical or sexual assault and power to make them stand independently in society.

Women’s empowerment is their ability to exercise complete control on one’s actions. A lot has been done for women empowerment in India since we achieved independence, but Indian women still have a long way to go if we want to call ourselves empowered.

Women friends

Women are 52 per cent of the total population of India. India has seen a powerful woman prime minister and women chief ministers of the states. But the truth is that women are still helpless in Indian society. Many women are still living below the poverty line, have no access to education facilities, have minimum lifestyle and have zero financial independence.

However, times are changing and that can be noted in the basic changes that have been brought about in the role and status of women in Indian society. There has been a major shift in the policy from the concept of “welfare” in the 1970s to “development” in the 1980s and now from 1990s “empowerment”.

The government is not focused on women’s empowerment in India which they comprehend as women being “equal partners like men.” They have run many programmes nationwide whose purpose is to spread awareness and capacity building involving their greater participation in society.

These programmes aim to make women educated, effective decision-makers with significant control that results in transformative action. With education and occupation training, women are becoming aware of the discrimination done towards them in many areas of family and society.

There is a great divide between rural and urban women. Urban women are educated, independent, smart and are in a financially strong position. This situation is a distant dream when it comes to rural women.

Many rural women are deprived of basic facilities such as food, cloth, shelter, health and education. However, the urban women too are not as empowered as they would like to be, what with growing rape, sexual harassment at workplace and domestic violence incidents.

Much has been done on the part of government and non-government organizations to grow women’s empowerment in India, but obviously it has not been enough.

The review of  several hundred of the government’s programmes for women empowerment in India – such as Streeshakti and Balika Samrudhi Yojana – reveal that very little has been done or achieved. The discrepancy in the implementation of empowerment policies is mainly due to the fact that women in India continue to be socially and economically backward.

The idea of women empowerment in India would be more relevant only when Indian women are better educated, informed and in the position of taking rational decisions for themselves and their families. Abuse and exploitation must be stopped.

Women must be given better health facilities and Indian males need to be sensitized to women’s issues. There can be no achievement of women empowerment in India unless our basic needs are met first.