2018 has been a fiercely empowering year for more reasons than one. Indian women, time and again, have proved their mettle despite the roadblocks that come their way. Here’s a recap on some of the most empowering moments by Indian women in 2018.

Pooja Priyamvada and Namita Bhattacharya lighting their fathers’ pyres

Pooja, a poet and award-winning blogger, broke several taboos this year as she empowered several people and  shackled the country’s age-old beliefs in her own way. She performed all the last rites of her father. On the other hand, former PM late Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s foster daughter Namita Bhattacharya surprised the nation as she lit the funeral pyre of her father. She stood tall and lit her father’s funeral pyre amidst state honours, with world media watching.

Deepika Padukone becoming first woman in Forbes top-five richest Indian celeb list

Ranking fourth in the list, Deepika Padukone became the first woman to enter top-five of Forbes richest Indian celebrities list. The actor, who has had several hits over the past few years, gave a major blockbuster – Padmaavat – this year. Padukone, who recently tied the knot with actor Ranveer Singh, continues to be at the top of her game. Padukone was paid more than her male co-stars for Padmaavat and also emerged as the first female actor to headline this 300 crore film.

#MeToo movement

#MeToo may have started in the West, but it has taken a big leap in India. The Indian #MeToo is empowering in more ways than one. The campaign belongs to all those women who have led the way, all those who have followed, all those who gathered the courage to come out, all those who could not, and also all those who are standing in solidarity with others. There’s still a long way to go, but let’s just say that it’s the women of this country who will drive out the age-old patriarchal system that has been giving men the right to abuse women. This empowering moment is for all the women in India who are standing their ground and shackling the age-old normalised systems.

Women farmers’ March

In November, for the fourth time in the last 18 months, India’s farmers — men and women, took to the Capital’s streets with a hope of being heard. While these farmers were agitating for their demands, the women farmers faced an even bigger battle — to be recognised. Recently, Mahila Kisan Adhikar Manch (MAKAAM) organised a protest at Azad Maidan, Mumbai, for the wives of farmers who ended their lives due to mounting debts. In both marches, women took part in large numbers demanding their acknowledgment and rights and vowed to not back down.

Anukreethy Vas

19-year-old Anukreethy Vas was crowned Femina Miss India 2018. The Tamil Nadu college student won this coveted title at a grand ceremony in Mumbai. Raised by a single mother, Vas wishes to become a supermodel as she loves facing the camera. The teen delivered some fiery answers in the most empowering way and took away the crown. “The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today. So be the best version of yourself every day” is a quote she swears by.

Lawyers fighting for LGBTQ

This year also witnessed the victory of love! This year, in a landmark decision, Supreme Court of India finally scrapped Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which criminalised homosexuality. The judgment was long overdue. A number lawyers – men and women – through sheer commitment to the case, made it possible for the LGBTQ community to have equal rights. Ritu Dalmia, Indu Malhotra, Ayesha Kapur, Menaka Guruswamy, Jayna Kothari and Akkai Padmashali are some of the women flag-bearers fighting for the case.

Sabarimala

Everything concerned with the Sabarimala temple will go down in history as an important event that smashed patriarchy and its age-old traditions. Even after the Supreme Court order that allowed women to enter the sanctum sanctorum of the Sabarimala Temple in Kerala’s Tirupati, women are still facing massive resistance from devotee associations and Hindu outfits. The hill shrine, where now women of any age can enter, saw activist Rehana Fathima along with journalist Kavita Jakkal becoming the only two women who could reach closest to the temple. But really, this empowering moment goes to all the women out there, who have been fighting hard to enter the temple and access their rights.

Padman on-screen

Author Twinkle Khanna, who turned producer with Padman, brought to the surface the ground reality of taboos linked with menstruation. Padman, a real life story of Arunachalam Muruganantham, who resolved to make the world’s first low-cost sanitary pad making machine to help solve a major societal problem, not only started an empowering dialogue, but also changed several perceptions over the past one year.

Priyanka Chopra ruling the year all the way

Actor Priyanka Chopra has had an eventful year. The actor, who recently tied the knot with Nick Jonas, became the first Indian woman to grace the American Vogue cover in the magazine’s 126 year history. Chopra, who also landed a spot on Time’s 100 Most Influential People list, recently became a tech investor and launched a dating application, Bumble.

Sania Mirza naming her baby Mirza Malik

Tennis player Sania Mirza and Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik welcomed their baby boy in October. The two chose to add both their surnames to their baby. The couple, who married in 2010, had made a unique announcement in April this year about Mirza’s pregnancy. In her announcement, she used an illustration of closets while making it different for a boy and a girl. She captioned the photo “#BabyMirzaMalik”. Sania had also featured on the cover of JW Magazine during her pregnancy. The magazine, which focused on her take on motherhood, quoted her saying, “Pregnancy is not a deterrent. It empowers and inspires.”

Kasibhatta -Telangana’s youngest woman engineer

16-year-old Kasibhatta Samhitha became Kerala’s youngest woman engineer. “I want to get into the (Power) sector to serve the country & bring it at par with rest of the world. I opted for electrical & electronics engineering which I cleared with 8.85 GPA,” she said on her achievement.

Hima Das appointed as youth ambassador by UNICEF

Star sprinter Hima Das was been appointed as the country’s first ever youth ambassador of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) India. The 18-year-old athlete from Assam was given the responsibility by the world organisation during the Children’s Day celebration on November 14. The Asian Games gold-medallist is honoured to be chosen as India’s Youth Ambassador and said, “I hope I will be able to inspire more children to follow their dreams.”

R Vaishali

Vaishali became India’s youngest grandmaster this year. After winning her third and last Woman Grandmaster (WGM) norm earlier in the 8th Riga Technical University (RTU) Open Chess Tournament held in Riga, Latvia, R Vaishali became India’s latest Woman Grandmaster (WGM). Vaishali is the elder sister of R Praggnanandhaa who became the second youngest GM in the world in June this year.

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