March 8 is celebrated as International Women’s Day. The theme for this year celebration is “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030”. Overall, last twelve-moths have been a marvelous time for women rights. Although, Hillary Clinton could not become the first woman American president but large number of women across the world came forward and spoke about things which they were earlier reluctant to – be it Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse allegations or women in technology asking for pay parity. Now, pay parity at tech companies and women role in Hollywood are hot topics. So much so that one of the most popular cybersecurity conference – RSA Conference – has been severely criticized for not having enough female speakers. Away from the West, with digitalization picking up in India, the new avenues are opening with new opportunities. Women in India are overcoming many challenges to follow their passion. Here, we try to explore few stories to understand, how women are changing the world in their own way.
Mehvish Mushtaq: First woman Android developer in Kashmir
Mehvish Mushtaq was born and brought up in Srinagar. Since her early age, technology fascinated her. That led her to create one of the first Android app by women in Jammu & Kashmir. In 2013, she developed a Dial Kashmir App. The app provides phone numbers, e-mail ids and addresses of essential and commercial services in Kashmir. In addition to directory feature, it also has other features like ‘Find Pin code’, ‘Railway timings’, ‘list of holidays’, ‘Muslim Prayer timings’ among others.
Mumtaz Kazi: Asia’s first woman who drives a diesel train
Mumtaz Kazi is Asia’s first woman who drives a diesel train. She drove her first train only at the age of 20 years. She is the face who silently inspires and empowers the world of women by her heroic achievements and gesture. Born and brought up in Mumbai, she has seen many ups and downs in the life but it’s the family support that kept her moving. With the experience of nearly 20 years she is now serving the most crowded railways. In 1995, her name featured in LIMCA Book of Records as first lady diesel locomotive driver. In the year 2015, she was awarded with Railways General Manager Award. In 2016, she won the prestigious Nari Shakti Puruskar.
Pallavi Fauzdar: Marks that even men are yet to achieve
Pallavi Fauzdar, an adventure motorcyclist has created unparallel landmarks in the field of motorcycling which are still to be achieved by male counterparts in a male dominated sport. She is the first motorcyclist in the world to conquer 8 mountain passes above 5000 meters altitude in a single trip covering 3500 kms of tough mountain terrain of Himachal, Leh, Ladakh and Kashmir valley. Her feat has been recognised by Limca Book of world record. She has been the first motorcylist to reach the top of the highest and the toughest mountain pass in the world, The Mana Pass, Uttarakhand at an altitude of 5638 meters or 18774 feet. She is also the first female rider to reach the highest lake in the world on motorcycle, the Deo Tal at an altitude of 17950 feet above sea level.
Smita Tandi: A constable, perhaps you are yet to meet
Smita Tandi is a constable, but unlike any you may have come across. Smita along with her friends started a group ‘Jeevandeep’in 2015 to provide financial help to poor people in order to enable them to access medical treatment. They collect money through their Facebook page which has 7 lakh followers.
In the year 2013, her father died as she did not have enough money to pay for the medical treatment he required. This made her realise the plight of thousands of people who die because of lack of money. She decided to take action and opened a Facebook page to collect money for those who require the same to access medical treatment.
Before collecting money for any person, she visits the person and after due verification issue a plea for collection of money towards medical treatment. She has never counted on how many people she has helped by raising money through Facebook, but it must be in hundreds.
Subha Varier. G: ISRO’s video lady
Subha Varier. G, a graduate from CET, Trivandrum in Electronics and Communication Engineering joined ISRO in December 1991. Presently she is heading the Video Systems Development Section in Avionics Entity, VSSC. She is responsible for developing various onboard systems like Video processing electronics based on JPEG & MPEG, SD & HD Cameras, DSP based Data processing Units for Scientific payloads, Real Time Decision system for Liftoff, different types of onboard data recorders etc.
She was instrumental in inducting and globalizing onboard Video Systems in all the ISRO Launch vehicle programmes. Video system has been inducted for the first time in PSLV in 2016 with multiple cameras for viewing all separation events. PSLV C37 mission was very significant due to the fact that the vehicle carried 104 satellites from 6 different nations.
A full-fledged video system, conceptualised, configured and realized by her, was employed in the mission to confirm the collision free separation of all the satellites in the mission. PSLV being an operational vehicle and used for multi satellite deployment for worldwide users, it is essential to have images of critical separating events of stages and satellites as proof of performance, from the technical and commercial point of view. These images helped in quick look post flight data analysis. Further, it provided good video content for public viewing, expanding the avenues of this operational vehicle.
Anoyara Khatun: A survivor and inspiration for many
Anoyara khatun, a survivor of trafficking, works towards the prevention of child marriage, child trafficking, child labour and domestic violence. At the age of 13, while she was being trafficked, she saved not only herself but a large number of children being trafficked with her and enabled the arrest of the trafficker.
Since 2007, she has been working with the Dahadia Social Welfare Society. Popularly known as ‘Malala of Bengal’, she has managed to prevent the marriage of 50 minor girls, foiled around 85 attempts of child trafficking and enabled the rescue and reunion of more than 200 children with their families and persuaded 200 dropouts to resume their studies.
In the year 2012 she was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize on account of her extraordinary efforts towards prevention of child trafficking and early child marriages in India. She represented India in the UNO and participated in the Global Partnership for Education Replenishment Conference hosted by the European Union. She was also th invited to participate in the 70 Session of the United Nations General Assembly, New York.
An NSS volunteer she is a role model in her village and adjoining areas for employing out of the box techniques to prevent the incidences of trafficking and catch the traffickers. Presently, she has 80 volunteer groups who regularly keep vigil on incidences of trafficking in rural areas of Sundarbans of West Bengal.