The 7 Indian changemakers on BBC's '100 Most Influential Women' List
The future is female
BBC has released its list of this year’s 100 most influential women from around the world, asking “What would the future look like if it were driven by women?” They look at these changemakers breaking ground to fulfil their vision of what the world could look like in 2030.
Many of these influential women are stalwarts in the world of activism with years of groundbreaking (and backbreaking) work to their name. A younger generation of voices have also made themselves heard in new and creative ways, like climate change activist Greta Thunberg and journalist Sara Wesslin. There are industry leaders, like Van Thi Nguyen who co-founded the Will to Live Centre which provides vocational training to differently-abled citizens in Hanoi, to political ones, like Afghanistan’s first female mayor, Zarifa Ghafari.
Part of this inspiring celebration of the world’s influential women are seven Indian women blazing the way for others to follow. Their extraordinary achievements, moving words and remarkable work have often changed our culture.
1. Parveena Ahanger
Known as the Iron Lady of Kashmir, Parveena Ahanger is a well-known human rights activist from Kashmir. She founded the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons in Jammu and Kashmir after her teenage son “disappeared” in 1990. The foundation aims at raising awareness about the thousands of missing youth in the region and to put pressure on the government to investigate the same. In 2007 she was awarded the Rafto Prize for Human Rights and was even nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2015.
2. Aranya Johar
Two years ago Aranya Johar’s spoken word performance ‘A Brown Girl’s Guide to Gender’ went viral on social media amassing a whopping 2.4 million views. The 21-year-old poet’s words speak of the often unspoken taboos that have intertwined themselves into Indian society and thinking. She addresses gender disparities, body image and mental health weaving lyrical webs that leave listeners spellbound.
She’s often referred to as ‘Space Woman’. Dr Mohanty is a spaceship designer, having worked and consulted with NASA, European Space Agency, ISRO and Boeing; a space entrepreneur with her one-of-a-kind space start-up Earth2Orbit and a passionate climate change advocate, monitoring and analysing global data from space to tackle climate change.
Subhalakshmi Nandi has been fighting for women’s rights, gender equality and economic empowerment for over 15 years. As the Deputy Regional Director at The International Center for Research on Women Asia (ICRW), she focuses her efforts on women farmers, ending violence against women and providing equal access to education.
5. Natasha Noel
Calling Natasha Noel just a yoga guru would be an incredible understatement. She uses her platform to talk about not just physical health and wellness, but mental health as well. Opening up about her own past, traumas, sexual abuse and struggles with body image.
Today she’s an author, scholar, renowned environmentalist and ‘eco-feminist’. In the 1970s, a young volunteer Vandana Shiva was a tree-hugger, holding on tight during the landmark Chipko Movement. She founded the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology, which led her to Navdanya, an NGO focused on promoting and aiding organic farming, biodiversity conservation and the rights of farmers.
7. Dr Pragati Singh