This International Women’s Day, celebrate the spirit of emancipation

They changed India with their valiant ways; others were valiant achievers, rebels, warriors and activists who changed the wave of complacent human existence.

Some were celebrated; others vilified; some were casually neglected – and yet their stories live on.

Two books from Rupa Publications bring alive their stories this International Women’s Day and are a reminder that the human will can never be suppressed, no matter what the odds.

“Rising: 30 Women Who Changed India” is an ode to the inspiring women who changed India with their valiant ways and is a must read for aspiring #BossWomen and little girls who seek to change and lead the world.

The book looks at what shaped them, the challenges they faced, the influences they had, the choices they made and how they negotiated around or broke the boundaries that sought to confine them, either through society or circumstance.

From diverse backgrounds, different generations, they have risen through sheer grit, determination, bolstered with passion, and are, today, names to look up to, to hold out as examples to the next generation of young women and girls, giving them courage to reach out to their dreams.

From politics to sport, from the creative and performing arts to cinema and television, from business leaders to scientists, legal luminaries and more, this book features the stories of these much celebrated, fabulous women: Sushma Swaraj, Sheila Dikshit, Fathima Beevi, Mahasweta Devi, Amrita Sher-Gil, Amrita Pritam, Sonal Mansingh, Lata Mangeshkar, Anita Desai, M.S. Subbulakshmi, Harita Kaur Deol, Madhuri Dixit, Bachendri Pal, Rekha, Chhavi Rajawat, Karnam Malleswari, Shailaja Teacher, Hima Das, Naina Lal Kidwai, Shakuntala Devi, P.T. Usha, P.V. Sindhu, Ekta Kapoor, Kiran Bedi, Mary Kom, Menaka Guruswamy, Tessy Thomas, Aparna Sen, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw and Gayatri Devi, among others.

Kiran Manral is a writer, author and novelist based in Mumbai. Her fiction titles include “The Reluctant Detective”, “Once Upon a Crush”, “All Aboard!” “Saving Maya”, “Missing: Presumed Dead”, “The Face at the Window”, “The Kitty Party Murder” and “More Things in Heaven and Earth”. In the non-fiction category, her works include “Karmic Kids”, “True Love Stories”, “A Boy’s Guide to Growing Up”, “13 Steps to Bloody Good Parenting”, “Raising Kids with Hope and Wonder in Times of a Pandemic and Climate Change”.

She has received multiple awards such as the Women Achievers Award by Young Environmentalists Association in 2013 and the International Women’s Day Award 2018 from ICUNR.

Igniting the spark of feminist consciousness, “Her Stories – Indian Women Down The Ages” by Deepti Priya Mehrotra is a saga of valiant women achievers, rebels, warriors and activists who changed the wave of complacent human existence.

The book celebrates the stories of women with forgotten glory, such as: Philosopher Sulabha, philanthropist Vishakha, fearless Uppalavanna, justice maker Leima Laisna, astronomer Khona, intrepid Sultan Razia, martial artiste Unniyarcha, poet-saint Janabai, Gond Rani Durgavati, cult ural ambassador Harkha, pepper queen Abbakka, fakira Jahanara, brave Onake Obavva, Dalit rebel Nangeli and many more.

These were poets, performers, warriors, saints, philosophers, activists and more, yet we hardly remember their courage and contributions. The time has come to bring their history to the fore.

Their stories describe desperate situations, ingenious strategies and brilliant sparks of feminist consciousness.

Rather than accounts of isolated “great women”, these stories place at the centre the ordinary woman, in all her splendid diversity, multifaceted struggle and achievement. The women profiled were encouraged and supported by others—their achievements represent the aspirations of many in the past, and provide inspiration for us in the present.

Cutting across several regions of India and presented in chronological order from the second millennium BCE, to the mid-19th century India, these are the stories of women who have been thinkers, doers, movers and shakers who have subverted hierarchies, brought peace out of chaos and survived despite routine devaluation.

Deepti Priya Mehrotra is a political scientist, with cross-disciplinary interests. Her ground-breaking books include “Home Truths: Stories of Single Mothers”, “Burning Bright: Irom Sharmila and the Struggle for Peace in Manipur”, “A Passion for Freedom: The Story of Kisanin Jaggi Devi”, “Gulab Bai: The Queen of Nautanki Theatre” and “Bharatiya Mahila Andolan: Kal, Aaj aur Kal”.

Mehrotra advises civil society organizations on gender and education issues, has taught social science at Delhi University, Dayalbagh Educational Institute (DEI), Agra and Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, and designed curriculum for the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU). She is recipient of fellowships by Indian Council for Philosophical Research, MacArthur Foundation and Nehru Memorial Museum and Library.

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