One look at history will give you numerous stories of women, who have constantly and unapologetically broken stereotypes, creating history. A few decades ago, it was a lot more difficult for women to step out of their homes, let alone pursue offbeat careers. While there continues to be some taboo and prejudice, it’s getting better with time, thanks to these inspirational women who challenged the societal norms.

This International Women’s Day, here are a few stories of women who opted for offbeat professions and created history with their success. From racing and surfing to boxing and filmmaking, they have proved themselves as women of substance.  

Ishita Malaviya

Standing strong against the tide, Ishita is the first Indian lady slider. A ‘broke college student’, it was in 2007 that this Mumbai girl started learning to surf. In a few years, she moved to a village in Karnataka and started Shaka Surf Club. 

Having set up shop in 2011 on the Kodi Bengre beach in Karnataka, Ishita has since taken efforts to teach the locals and their children surfing.  

MC Mary Kom

A Padma Bhushan-awardee and an Olympic boxer, everybody knows Mary Kom aka Magnificent Mary. She is the only woman to become World Amateur Boxing champion for a record six times, the only woman boxer to have won a medal in each one of the first seven World Championships, and the only boxer (male or female) to win eight World Championship medals. 

The Manipur-born champion is also the only Indian woman boxer to have qualified for the 2012 Summer Olympics, competing in the flyweight (51 kg) category and winning the bronze medal. She had also been ranked as No. 1 AIBA World Women’s Ranking Light Flyweight category.

Veenu Paliwal

One of the most common stereotypes that women face is that they cannot drive. However, lady racers from around the world will prove it all wrong. 

Here’s Veenu Paliwal from Jaipur who is known as the Lady of Harley. Due to her enthusiasm for bikes, she is also called HOG Rani and is considered to be the first Indian to ride a bike at over 350 km/hour.

Vasu Primlani

Changing the game with her humour, Vasu Primlani wears many hats – that of a comedienne, environmentalist, and professor. She is also a fitness enthusiast and has done five half marathons, two Olympic-distance triathlons, a Half Ironman, one sprint triathlon, and more. 

The Government of India awarded her with Nari Shakti Puraskar in 2015. She uses comedy to throw light on social issues such as the environment, human rights, and rape.

Dipa Karmakar

Tripura’s Dipa Karmakar is truly an inspiration. The gymnast proved her prowess at various sporting events including the RIO Olympics in 2016. 

She is one of the only five women who have successfully landed the Produnova – considered to be the most difficult vault currently performed in women’s gymnastics. The Padma Shri-awardee is the first Indian woman to ever compete in the Olympics. 

These are some of the many inspiring women who dared to dream. Each one of them has broken stereotypes by proving themselves, and opening up opportunities for many others to follow. Imagine if PV Sindhu wasn’t encouraged to play badminton or if Indra Nooyi didn’t follow her dream in the field of business! 

It is important for children, especially girls, to identify their interests and opt for the right career option. Let’s celebrate women and girls by encouraging them to study, choose a career of their choice and excel in it. 

If you’re looking for some guidance to do that, you’re at the right place.

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