A year after the 21st century has stepped into its teens; we are evolving as a nation and analyzing every situation. We all are standing up for a cause and are no more putty in our male counterpart’s hands (well, almost). Those who have the courage to stand up for themselves are also crutches for those who lack the backbone of steel. All in all a revolution of sorts is about to begin where women’s safety and her rights are being emphasized on. We are no longer happy being treated as the sidekicks and we are expressing this unhappiness quite well. And it’s not only the female kind who is bucking up for this war; there are men as well who are men enough to acknowledge this need of the hour. But before we forge into the battle, it is essentially important for us to be connected with the past where it all began. Where a woman was considered (and said) to be way too inferior to be a partaker of a movement or a participant of an activity. Women who proved themselves by breaking free of the mould, these inspirational women must not be forgotten by any one of us as they were just like one of us. Here’s a list of women who were the first to make a name for themselves in fields predominantly occupied and ruled by men.
1. Thérèse Peltier
Records state that she was the first woman aviator in the world. A sculptor by profession the last thing she was expected to do was to fly an aircraft heavier-than-air. She is not only the first woman pilot who flew solo, but she is also believed to be the first woman passenger on a plane. While, there were other ladies who were reported flying a plane somewhere around that time, Thérèse was very much taken with flying and continued flying until the death of her beloved Léon Delagrange, who was also her aviation tutor. Young girls took a cue from Thérèse and there began a journey, fruits (or, freedom) of which we are still enjoying. Amelia Earhart and the rest of us must thank this French woman.
2. Sirimavo Bandaranaike
Closer home we have the world’s first woman prime-minter. Head of the government in Ceylon and Sri Lanka, this woman of grit first took the political reign in 1960 and since then has served her country three times over the years. After, the assassination of her husband, Mrs. Bandaranaike took over his duties and the country loved her in the shoes of the prime minister.
3. Valentina Tereshkova
Today we pepper our motivation conversation with names like Sunita Williams and other lady astronauts. But let us first thank the woman who made it possible for all of us to dream of a world where we could be an astronaut as well. Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova was the first woman to witness the thrill of going into space.
Writing today is much easier than the olden days. Imagine having to duel with the papyrus and the quill. And the freedom of writing was also a matter of luxury not enjoyed by all. In a time like this, the first woman author brandished her pen. Enheduanna is a Sumerian poet whose works have influenced hymns in the early Christian churches. Today, her work is a literary heritage. A high priestess in her golden days who later cast into exile, her translated works speak through the wide chasm in time.
5. Bertha Benz
If you are a woman, you would probably hear sexist remarks about your driving skills every now and then. But history has gives evidence of a woman who first drove an automobile and drove it well. She was none other than the automobile inventor Karl Benz’s wife, Bertha Benz. And he was not doing her any favours in helping her to drive an automobile; in fact it was the other way round. His then fiancé, Betha invested heavily in his workshop making it possible for him to come up with the first patented automobile. High five for this one here! By the way she drove really long, over 60 miles to precise (that too with her kids).
6. Gertrude Ederle
If the water is teeth-chattering cold, then she probably may not dive in, right? Wrong! Absolutely wrong! Gertrude Caroline Ederle in 1926 became the first women to swim through the notoriously cold English Channel. She began a revolution of sorts which motivated other women to dive right behind her.
7. Elizabeth Blackwell
Then there was this era when one’s sex determined their healing power. Women were not considered to be fit enough to doctors. Sure, they delivered children but their responsibility came to an end right there. In testing (or, sexist) hours like these Elizabeth Blackwell was first granted a medical degree in America to officially practice as a doctor. She was probably the first woman to be listed on the British General Medical Council’s register. And trust me her journey to become a doctor was anything but simple. It is a classic example of good prevails over evil.
8. Patricia Harper
First lady anchor and reporter of American television, she paved a path for the rest who always wanted to be on the idiot box. Initially, she partnered with her husband on a nightly news telecast but her talent took her places eventually landing her a solo show on television. And we are not talking about local broadcast here; she was an integral part of the national broadcasting network.
9. Arabella Mansfield
And if a man though little dresses were all a woman thought of, then he should consider this one here who favoured the long black cape instead. In a time when women lawyer were as common as polar bears in Sahara, Arabella Mansfield went ahead to become the first female lawyer in the United States. She not only carved a niche for herself but made a path for others as well.
10. Hattie McDaniel
If Lupita Nyong’o’s heart-winning speech on beauty moved you, then Hattie McDaniel’s story would uproot you. The first African-American actress to bag an academy award, you’ve gotta catch her in action in the evergreen Gone with the Wind. Daughter of former slaves she was a woman of many firsts.