Once every year, the flavor of the season becomes the ‘celebration of women.’ Until not very long ago, women who had hoped to change their lives had only their own imagination(and fierce willpower) to fall back on, with no or very few role models in sight. This is not to say there weren’t any. There were plenty. But young girls only got to hear tales of Cinderella pining for her prince and Sleeping Beauty waiting to be awakened by hers.
That changed unalterably for young girls with the launch of the ground-breaking, crowdsourced bestseller,’ GoodNight Stories for Rebel Girls.’ A slew of other similar books came along- a welcome transformation in the publishing world.
On the occasion of this International Women’s Day, India’s favorite story-teller Amar Chitra Katha launched a collection of India’s own #RebelGirls: ‘Women Path-Breakers: Stories of Success & Strength‘
What stories are we talking about?
‘Women Path-Breakers: Stories of Success & Strength’ is a curated selection of the life and times of 7 iconic women from India, who lived ordinary lives until they just decided to be extraordinary. Beginning from the early 19th century, the book takes us through the travails and upheavals in the lives of these remarkable women.
What is especially captivating is how some of these women broke into careers that are considered a tad unusual and herculean for women(and men) even today-
Anasuya Sarabhai who pioneered the labor movement in India despite having to go against her own family; Anna Mani who faced sexism from (surprise, surprise!)- the famed physicist C.V. Raman himself and was instrumental in setting up the first meteorological observatory in India; Rukhmabai who fought for the marital rights of minor girls( at a time when annulling a marriage was considered to be the blackest of scars on a woman); Pandita Ramabai, a scholar who had to come a full circle with her life to realize her mission of helping other widows, Muthulakshmi Reddy – the first woman legislator to work on the laws that benefited thousands of Devadasis in the country, Anandibai Joshi- whose unbearable grief of losing her child led her to brave all odds to study medicine and become the first lady doctor in India to better the lives of other women.
There are also one-page ‘story cards’ about four other women who did remarkable things to break down India’s societal structures, but whose stories and names are far from familiar to the average Indian.
Why you should read this book:
The book takes you through their stories in a simple, uncomplicated manner while giving you a glimpse into the inner lives, conflicts- both external and internal, and life-events that turned into decision-clinchers for them- in the characteristic ACK style. Also, it’s a tribute to all the men who were willing to break traditions to support the women they believed in- Rukhmabai’s father who supports her against all odds, or Anandibai Joshi’s husband who taught her to temper people’s expectations from her and live by her own standards.
The stories come with other interesting tidbits- like knowing that India was the first country to identify and study the dangers of a depleting Ozone layer and that Anna Mani, India’s first woman meteorologist was invited all over the globe to share her independent research on the topic.
A hot favorite in the mythology corner, Amar Chitra Katha brings a deep immersive quality to these contemporary story presentations as well. A great pick for kids, and adults.
‘Women Path-Breakers: Stories of Success & Strength’ is available on the Amar Chitra Katha website, Amazon and any other major bookstore.