Women who lead from the front

Women hold up more than half the sky, yet their place in history is often overshadowed by men. A selection of stories about women who are creating opportunities for themselves and creating their own history.

Curated by Riya Behl

Small farmer, big heart, miracle bike

by Aparna Karthikeyan
Chandra Subramanian is a farmer and a single mother. She cultivates and sells vegetables that she grows on her 4 acres of land. This story explores her daily life, joys and struggles.
Sivagangai, Tamil Nadu

Learning lessons from an un-amputated spirit

by Shraddha Agarwal
In 2019, gangrene cost Pratibha Hilim all four limbs. But this Adivasi teacher in Palghar, Maharashtra, has continued undaunted, teaching students during the Covid-19 induced lockdowns, who have little chance of an ‘online education’, at her own home.
Palghar, Maharashtra

Behind a successful woman are more women

by Apekshita Varshney
Widowed as a teenager and without steady schooling, Basanti Samant rose to become a resilient leader in Kumaon's Kausani village – bringing together women to save the Kosi, conserve forests and counter abuse.
Bageshwar, Uttarakhand

Patraput's saviour of indigenous seeds

by Harinath Rao Nagulavancha
Kamala Pujhari shows us the process of seed conservation – an uphill task when many varieties of paddy in her village have vanished. Kamala, who is in her late 60s and from the Bhumia Adivasi community, received the Padma Shri in recognition of her work in 2019.
Koraput, Odisha

Drums and dreams beyond pickle and papad

by Puja Awasthi
Battling barbs from villagers, abusive husbands, and centuries-old caste prejudices, ten Dalit women in Dhibra village of Bihar have formed a band – and now have many marching and swaying to their beat.
Patna, Bihar

‘Without RHOs we are helpless and hopeless’

by Priti David
As a senior rural health officer in an Adivasi belt of Chhattisgarh’s Narayanpur district, Urmila Dugga’s list of tasks is long – and it’s RHOs like her on the ground who keep the public healthcare system running.
Narayanpur, Chhattisgarh

When ‘Salihan’ took on the Raj

by P. Sainath
Demathi Dei Sabar christened as Salihan after the name of her village was an Adivasi woman who took on a group of British officers after they shot her father in the leg. Many women freedom fighter’s role in the freedom struggle has not been recognised. Read this story to learn of her bravado.
Nuapada, Odisha

Surviving Stigma: Housing and Land Rights of Farm Widows of Vidarbha, Maharashtra

by Prakriti Resource Centre for Women and Development and Housing and Land Rights Network
This report published in October, 2017 aims to locate housing and land rights of women farmers whose husbands have died by suicide. It contextualises the gender struggle amidst the ongoing agrarian crisis in the Vidarbha region in Maharashtra.
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