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INDIAN WOMEN SURFERS-SMASHING STEREOTYPES -2Continuing the series of blogs by IWRM on Indian women who have smashed stereotypes and have entered male bastions, here is the second piece on  five daredevil Indian Women Surfers,the first of  their kind!

How female surfers in India challenge the system and over throw patriarchy one wave at a time. Beach patriarchy is a problem the world over but in more conservative societies like India, even things like wearing shorts to surf can draw unwanted attention. Ever since the surfboard arrived at our shores, women have been battling a seemingly unending wave of stares and backyard whispers to do what they love. 


1. Ishita Malaviya, the first woman professional surfer of India.

Born and brought up in the coastal city of Mumbai, Ishita was always an outdoors person. Unlike most city bred girls who are not really comfortable stepping outside urban confines, Ishita dreamt of moving to a greener, less chaotic place ever since she was a teenager. Around the same time, she was really drawn to surfing but assumed that there were no waves in India and that she would have to travel abroad to start surfing. In the year 2007, Ishita moved from Mumbai to the small university town of Manipal in coastal Karnataka to pursue her higher studies. This is where serendipity was waiting to strike her!

Utter coincidence led Ishita and Tushar, her boyfriend, to meet a German exchange student who had come down to India with a surfboard. And it was through him, that they discovered an Ashram where the devotees were surfers from California who were surfing at a spot which was only an hour away from where the two of them lived. A little converstaion and a lot of excitement later, they were ready to ride their first wave!

Ishita was in her second year of college when entrepreneurship beckoned. Friends, acquaintances, foreigners, enquiries started pouring in from all corners and by the time Ishita had completed her four-year course, this number only grew. It was then that she decided to take this up as a profession along with her partner. The was born in an abandoned bar by the sea in the small village of Kodi Bengere of Udupi district in Karnataka.

Surfing, India, Back in 2007, when Ishita started surfing, the sport was pretty much unheard of in India. Being the only girl among boys who in comparison could paddle more aggressively, she did feel intimidated. But Ishita was not one to give up easily and persevered and went on to become the first successful professional woman surfer from India. 

So what keeps us Indians away from surfing? “Most people don’t know how to swim and live in fear of the ocean, “says Ishita adding there is a lot of social pressure on women to look and dress a certain way. Dark skin is not considered beautiful and so most women are afraid of getting tanned. But Ishita has a lot of hope for the future of women’s surfing in India owing to people like her oldest student, a 65 year old woman from the village and an increasing number of girls keen on learning the sport.Ishita and Tuishar with participants of ‘The Nipper Programme’

2. Suhasini Damian –Auroville Surfer Girl and Enterpreneur


She grew up in Auroville, Pondicherry, and while her immediate neighbourhood was very forward-thinking and diverse, the same could not be said about others. “Many people I know always comment on my skin tone – that I am so dark and used to look more beautiful before,” in her own words.While Suhasini started surfing at 20, Sinchana Gowda was barely in her teens when she took to the board, an age vulnerable to unnecessary criticism. “Many people ask why girls even participate in sports. There are still many who say that we should not go surfing because we will get tanned,” the 15-year-old said.

Sinchana surfs in the village of Mulki in Karnataka on the west coast of India though the problem doesn’t differentiate between coasts as Suhasini can testify – “I have had men whistling and shouting nasty, vulgar comments while I walk to the beach with my board in my surf shorts and rash vest.”Surfing certainly sees more men on the board than women, and one of the reasons could be this attitude. “I feel that if women are exposed to a more supportive and encouraging environment without being harassed on the beach, more of them would surf,” Suhasini pointed out.

Sinchana has had to prove herself to garner support from the local community. “Even without people’s support we have to fulfil our dreams by ignoring their negativity. Once we get medals, we receive their support. We have to constantly prove ourselves. Many still believe that a girl’s place is inside the home,” she said.She hopes ardently for more supporters, and particularly more sponsors for surfers in India. With surfing now included in the Olympics, she’s hoping to participate and win a medal for India.

Suhasini hopes that parents and friends will be “more supportive of surfing and less worried about what they or other people think of their daughter’s skin tone, what she wears or whether she’s married or not”.


• 3.Tanvi Jagadish—the only female surfer and stand-up paddler to have represented India

• Tanvi was just eight when she was introduced to water sports. Fascinated, she was soon at the point where surfing turned into more than a hobby—it became her career goal. However, in all her youthful exuberance, little did she anticipate the hurdles that were to stand in the way of her ambition.

• Where 17-year-old Tanvi comes from, the idea of girls wearing shorts and venturing into the water is pretty much unimaginable. Her father Jagadish works with Hindustan Petroleum and her mother Kavitha is a housewife. Tanvi is currently studying at Sharada Pre-University College in Mangalore. Tanvi’s parents were skeptical about her safety in harsh waters, and society had several objections with regard to her attire.

• “Society always had a way of pulling me down and even started putting pressure on my parents, yet they always believed in me and understood my passion and the knack I have for the sport. I worked very hard in the beginning without the support of my parents but they were just testing how strong I was with my surfing selections and I just worked on it.”

• Tanvi was highly influenced by April Zilg, a prominent athlete from North Carolina who is well recognised on the American SUP circuit.

• Accompanying her husband on a six-month tenure, April experienced the much-talked-about culture shock in India, personally witnessing how difficult it is for women here to chase their dreams. There were instances when she even came across billboards asking parents not to throw their baby girls in the trash.

• Unable to stay away from the water, she decided to move to Mulki, a town near Mangalore, but she could not have imagined that she would be responsible not only for ushering SUP into the country but also changing a young girl’s life.

• April came across Mantra Surfing Club in Mangalore, one of the few organisations in India offering young people opportunities to get involved in water sports. April was quick to notice that though plenty of girls are interested in surfing and paddling, they take a step back because of familial constraints.It was during this time that April got to meet Tanvi, then a 14-year-old full of life, energy, and the enthusiasm to surf. Totally unbothered by restrictions, Tanvi plunged deep into the waters and surfed with total ease. The genuine passion in her eyes made it clear to April that Tanvi was destined to be in the water.


• 4.Sinchana Gowda: School girl, riding a wave at 15

• Sinchana tested waters when she was in 3rd grade. Now at 15 she has many medals to display, won at various competitions. The nearest sea shore is 50 kms away from her backyard. Six months of rigorous training catapulted her on to a podium among victors. India’s youngest surfer is a resident of Kallega, near Puttur in Dakshina Kannada. Studying in Class 10 at Sudhana Institutions, she dreams big and wants to win medals in surfing at international meets in senior category. What she needs is support to ride on waves to attain glory in a tough sport she loves i.e. surfing.

·2014- First medal when she stood 2nd at Covelong point classic surfing international meet at Mahabalipuram beach, event organised by SFI

·2015- Stood 2nd in standup Paddleboarding and open ocean Kayaking competition at Manapad beach in Chennai

·2015- First in national level competition held at Covelong point.

·2015-Entered semifinals in first attempt representing India in Asian meet at Covelong point.

·2015- Four bronze medals at National level swimming competition at Bengaluru

·2015-Youngest surfer to win gold medal at All Cargo open of surfing competition
• 5. India’s Youngest Female Surfer Aneesha Nayak

• No matter what, you must simply continue doing what you do and being you. There’s nothing in the world that can stop you, nothing at all! Aneesha Nayak a 15-year-old surfer girl from Puttur has come a long way. Aneesha has won a bronze medal at the age of 14 at International science fair in the US. She believes in following her dreams and sends a strong message to our young readers that continue with your passion and not let anything affect your mental stability and inner peace.

• There for sure is gender disparity in sports, only it’s not as intense as it used to be. Slowly things are changing but still the men feel uncomfortable if overtaken by a female. In surfing, there is a bit of disparity. Except for my home break, where all the men I surf with are my trainers, my Gurus, who support me by helping me improve my surf skills, when I surf most of the other breaks the men tend to get over aggressive and try to put me down by not letting me catch waves. But I took this in a positive way. It has only helped me increase my speed and endurance to be able to surf out there, even if it means I’m the only girl, and be able to catch waves despite the male dominance.

• It all started when I was 3. My parents have a rough relationship when I was young. My mother was mistreated in the household which made her want to leave but she wasn’t clear about splitting up as I was a kid and she thought I would want my dad. Then came a day when I was 5, I can still see it as if it happened yesterday. That night my dad walked out of the house and went to his parents. My mother and I stayed alone for three months until he came back into the picture. Later on we moved from Mangalore to Puttur and things were working out for about a year. Eventually, my dad became alcoholic and would fight with my mother almost every night. This was my life from age 7. Once when I was 14 after the usual fight at night, when I was in the kitchen to get some water, my dad walked up to me and said something sweet as if nothing had happened, I looked him straight in the eye and told him not to talk to me if he didn’t know how to talk to my mom, and that’s the end, that was the last time that I spoke to my dad. Then came a day when my dad asked us to leave the house. My mother and I went through a lot of struggles at that point and we finally moved and he never tried to make contact after that. I wasn’t really okay with sharing my story but once I shared with a few friends something changed in me. There were friends who were going through similar things and hadn’t shared it with anyone. They shared it with me and they felt much better and will continue to do so for the rest of their lives.

• It’s been 13 years since it has been introduced in the country. People are slowly getting the hang of it and thinking differently. Since a kid, all of us have been told by the elders that, once you go to the deeper side of the ocean it will just grab us and that we will not be able to make it back on land. Though it’s slow, that thinking is now changing!






Smashing Stereotypes-Archana Sardana


In this series of blogs, IWRM will be focusing on Indian women who have smashed stereotypes and have entered the male bastions. The first in the series is Archana Sardana.

Archana Sardana is India’s first female BASE jumper. She is a certified skydiver and was the first Indian to skydive with Indian Flag in United States of America. She is also the first woman Master Scuba Diver Trainer in India and has done multiple deep sea scuba dives in every corner of the globe. Raised in a country where women’s participation in sports remains uneven even today, she did not grow up as an adventure sports enthusiast. A mother of two boys, she graduated with a diploma in interior design, and says she was never really interested in pursuing outdoor activities.

She has done 335 skydives and 45 BASE jumps across the globe and unfurled the tri-color at a depth of 30 meters in the ocean, off the Andaman’s Neil Island, setting a record in the process. She is also the first Indian to BASE Jump the KL Tower, Malaysia with the Indian Flag. After discovering her love for adventure sports, She completed Adventure and Advanced Mountaineering courses from the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Darjeeling and Nehru Institute of Mountaineering. She has a ‘C’ license in skydiving from the United States Paratroopers Association having completed 335 skydives. She is the only Indian woman to be certified by Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), USA as a Master Scuba Diver Trainer. She runs her own venture ‘Archana Sardana Scuba Diving Academy,’ training young women on how to conquer their fears and feel the rush of adventure sport.

Over time, she has sought ways to use her adventurous spirit to help others. An expert at jumping out of helicopters, she did her first jump in service of an organization called ‘Blind Free India. “She believes that adventure activities make you a strong and independent person. She finds it a fitness mantra not only for the body but even the mind, and it helps build determination. Says she: “It helps you explore yourself as an individual. You realize that nothing can be bigger than this universe, it helps you be calm and strong at the same time.”


Archana’s next ambition is to jump off Mount Everest!


Indian Women & The Holocaust Of Dowry!


INDIAN WOMEN & THE HOLOCAUST OF DOWRY!There is a silent gendercide going on in India. 50 million women are missing from the population of India as per the date available in 2005. The apparent reason behind is female feticide. But the actual reason is –DOWRY!!!

Indian women have very low socio-economic status in the society due to the fact that Indian society is bye and large patriarchal and hence women are always treated as less than a man. Also since marriage and motherhood are the ultimate telos of the life of an Indian woman, all her life she is discriminated as “PARAYA DHAN”. Since she is supposed to go to someone else’s house as marriages are largely patrilocal, a huge amount of dowry is required to be given as a penalty by the parents who gave birth to a girl child. The parents nowadays with advent of technology prefer to get the female fetus aborted as it is much easier and cheaper then raising a girl child and marrying her off. Also since sexual violence against women is very high, families feel threatened by the presence of girl children and hence get the female fetus aborted. Even in olden days, the practice of female infanticide was very much rampant for the very same reasons.

The birth of a male child is celebrated even today with fervor in Indian families. As a male child is synonymous with a blank cheque for the family as when the boy grows up and gets a job, he would be rewarded by his future in laws by money, gold & property there by instantly lifting up his family status and affluence. But the story does not end here, if the girl fails to give birth to a male heir or if she is unable to bring back more dowry after marriage many a times she is burnt/killed by her husband and in-laws.

Dowry is a chronic problem of the Indian society just like the caste system and people have a criminal greed for dowry and go to vulgar extents of blackmail, torture, violence and murder of women for this.

DOWRY is nothing more than criminal extortion. Dowry should be defined as the method of selling one’s boy rather than being glorified as a status symbol and a source of income.

There are certain things that can be done to stop this social evil like

• Any man or family which demands dowry should be deemed as not fit for marriage as they cannot take care of themselves.

• Do not give Dowry to the people who torture your daughter as they may kill your daughter for their greed.

• The life and safety of your daughter is more important than marriage.

• Dowry demand should be treated as a threat to the life of your daughter.

• Any family which demands or extorts dowry in criminal, don’t marry your daughter to such a family or don’t send her back to such a family.

• In India the number of women is less than men so it should be the prerogative of your daughter to select and reject grooms and not the other way round.

• And the most effective solution to a dowry free society would be the empowerment of women. Make your daughters capable, invest in their education and employment rather than investing in dowry. Invest in her future because her future is your future and the country’s future.




Seventeen Forgotten Women Warriors



1.Marguerite de Bressieux

In France, in the late 1400s, Royalist troops battled against renegade nobles. In one such battle Marguerite de Bressieux, the princess of a Royalist castle, was captured by Louis de Chalon, the Prince of Orange, and along with her 11 women in waiting, was raped by his men.
Several months later, while Royalist troops prepared to attack Louis de Chalon at the battle of Autun, 12 knights appeared. They were dressed in black armor, wore black crepe veils over their helmets, and carried a black banner depicting an orange pierced by a spear, emblazoned the words Ainsi tu seras (you will be so). 
Eyewitnesses reported that they fought well. Each time they confronted one of the rapists, they would raise their visor so that he would know the identity of his executioner before killing him. Marguerite herself was badly injured in the battle, and died several hours later. She was buried with full military honors.

2.The Valiant Ladies of Potosi

In the mid-1600’s lived who would become two of Peru’s favorite folk heroines: the valiant ladies of Potosi. Doña Ana Lezama de Urinza, adopted into the de Sonza household, developed a close friendship with the de Sonza daughter, Doña Eustaquia, and in later years became her lover. Both women displayed a passionate interest in the fencing lessons provided for Eustaquia’s brother, and after the young man’s death, were allowed to pursue their interest. By age 13, they were studying with a swordmaster, as well as learning to handle firearms.
As was befitting proper young women of their class and times, they were raised in virtual seclusion from the rough life of Potosi. In their late teens, however, they often dressed as men, slipped away from the de Sonza hacienda, and plunged into the violent nightlife of the city for adventure and a test of their martial skills. In one street fight against four men, Ana was knocked out, and Eustaquia warded off the attackers with her sword until Ana regained consciousness and jumped to her feet. Ana identified the man who had struck her down, and attacked him with such ferocity that she cut through his shield and nearly severed his hand. The remaining three men fled.
For five years, the lovers wandered Peru, engaging in fights and gaining great fame as swordswomen. They returned to Potosi after Eustaquia’s father died, and willed them his estate. A few years later, Ana died from a wound she received in another of her dangerous pastimes: bullfighting. Four months later, Eustaquia died of grief.

3.Nancy Wake

Nancy Wake,a New Zealander, was living with her husband in Marseilles when WW2 broke out. She became an ambulance driver, later moving on to serve in the French resistance. Her group is estimated to have saved over 1000 downed airmen and lost soldiers from capture by the Germans.
Nancy became a thorn in the side of the Germans, and in November of 1942, the Gestapo records indicate their concern with an enemy agent they called “the White Mouse.” After being captured in 1943 and escaping, she was flown to England where she underwent grueling training for the Special Operations Executive. The only woman in Special Ops, she was ranked as a marksman with a Sten gun, and taught various methods of silent killing.
On March 1st, 1944, Nancy was dropped into France near Montlucon. Operating under a false name, she soon worked her way into the leadership of a 7,000 man guerrilla task force. On their first major assignment, Nancy and her guerrillas were attacked at their base by 22,000 German soldiers, supported by aircraft and artillery. Nancy and her men slipped out of the trap after dark, leaving 1500 German soldiers dead. By July, she was operating with a task force of 2000 maquis, attacking German conveys that were bringing troops and supplies to the Normandy front.
Britain honored her with the King George medal, America awarded her the Medal of Freedom with Bronze Palm for her aid in the rescue of two American officers, and the French government awarded her two Croix de Guerre, and a third Croix de Guerre with Star, and the Resistance Medal. 
Concerning Nancy Wade, a fellow maquis leader told an historian, “She is the most feminine woman I know, until the fight starts. Then she is like five men.”

4.Abbess Odette de Pougy

From the 7th through the 13th century in Western Europe, Abbesses held enormous powers. They commanded huge tracts of land with their knights, levied taxes on the surrounding populations, and even had coins struck in their own images. The often waged war on one another, and fortresses of warrior monks and nuns grew such a problem that laws were passed forbidding citizens to loiter outside convent walls, for their own safety. The king or queen could only subdue them with difficulty, and various popes established creeds against women engaging in martial combat in an attempt to weaken the sisterhood. The papal ban against women wearing armor proved to be the technicality on which Joan of Arc was sentenced to be burned as a heretic.
In 1265 Abbess Odette de Pougy of Notre Dame Aux Nonnains challenged Pope Urban IV. He wanted to build a church on the site where his father’s shoemaker’s shop once stood. The Abbess forbade him to do so, as the land belonged to her abbey. Pope Urban sent a work crew to break ground, despite the Abbesses’ objections, and she sent an armed party that drove them from her land. Two years later, he tried again with the same results. Enraged at the Abbess, the pope excommunicated the entire abbey. The sentence remained in effect for 14 years, but the Abbess was resolute, and the pope’s church was not built until after her death.

5.Philothey Benizelos

It was not unusual in world history for women warriors to be nuns: in the 1650’s, Philothey Benizelos established a convent in Greece and so successfully attracted women students that the local governments feared her growing power. The women of the convent were armed and trained as fighters, for several times Philothey had been called to forcibly pacify rebellious tenants who protested the harsh taxes exacted by the convent managers.


In the late 9th an early 8th centuries BC, Assyrian Queen Sammuramat secured the throne from her husband Ninus, ordered him killed, and seized control of the expansion of the Assyrian empire. She fought her way to oceans, thereby accessing foreign trade ports for land-locked Assyria. She conquered Babylon, and constructed one of the seven wonders of the world, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. She went on to capture Ethiopia and Egypt, held Bactria against her husband’s attack, and repulsed the armies of India. 
According to chroniclers of the time, the Queen led an army of 300,000 foot soldiers, 5,000 horse cavalry, and large contingents of camel-mounted cavalry and charioteers. Her impressive legend of accomplishment and conquest led the Greeks (who called her Semiramis) to fashion tales that she must be descended from the gods. 
She left behind her own records of her accomplishments on a variety of self-glorifying monuments. At the base of one statue, the Queen had engraved
“Nature made me a woman, yet I have raised myself to rival the greatest men. I swayed the scepter of Ninos, I extended my dominions to the river Hinamemes eastward; to the southward to the land of frankincense and myrrh; northward to Saccae and the Scythians. No Assyrian before me had seen an ocean, but I have seen four. I have built dams and fertilized the barren land with my rivers. I have built impregnable walls and roads to far places, and with iron cut passages through mountains where previously even wild animals could not pass. Various as were my deeds, I have yet found leisure hours to indulge myself with friends.”

7.Khawlah Bint al-Kindiyyah

In the early days of Islam, women of noble status had the same rights as their husbands, including the right to raid, to wage war, and to fight in battles. Khawlah Bint al-Kindiyyah rode with her female captains in the front ranks of Arab army, as they clashed with the Greeks at the battle of Yermonks. The Greek strategy bested the Arabs, and the Arab army retreated in panic. Khawlah and several other women captains assumed control of the army and turned back on the Greeks, urging the men to follow her into the center of battle. When a Greek soldier knocked Khawlah to the ground and advanced for the kill, her captain Wafeira severed his head with her sword, and displayed it to inspire the Arab soldiers.
Khawlah and her women captains (Alfra’Bint Ghifar al-Humayriah, Oserrah and Wafeira) were eventually captured by the Greeks in a battle near Damascus and their weapons were confiscated. Feeling that she and her captains were being treated rudely by their captors, Khawlah stirred her captains to escape. With no other weapons than the poles that held up their tent, they attacked their guards, and the soldiers fled before them.
A historian who saw Khawlah fight in battle described her as a tall knight, muffled in black and fighting with ferocious courage. She and her women captains were experienced warriors with the strength to control a camel in battle, to fight with a sword and lance, and to render a simple tent pole into a deadly weapon.

8.Black Agnes

In Scotland in 1334, Lady Agnes Randolph, called Black Agnes, fought in defense of the Castle Dunbar in the Earl her husband’s absence. Her adversary was England’s Earl of Salisbury, a specialist in military engineering and technology. For five years, the English general laid siege to Dunbar, and directed against her some of the most advanced machinery that had appeared in England. Black Agnes, leading her troops, withstood him, and after each bombardment, ordered the maids to dust the furniture and shake out the rugs in her chambers, and act of normalcy designed to irritate Salisbury, as he attempted to terrorize the inhabitants of Dunbar with his mines and cannon.
When the bombardment failed, Salisbury’s men built a testudo, a wheeled, covered shed under which his men worked battering rams. Agnes observed the apparatus for a time, before ordering her men to swing a large rock over the battlements and drop it on the testudo. As Salisbury’s men fled the crushed war machine, Agnes commanded that fire be dropped on the remains.
Finally, Salisbury brought Agnes’ brother, the Earl of Moray from prison to the Castle Dunbar. He displayed the Earl, and threatened to kill him if she did not capitulate. Her response came in two parts: first, because the castle did not belong to her, she could not surrender it, and second, because her brother had no children, his death would simply assure that she would inherit all his lands and with them, even greater power. Salisbury reluctantly returned her brother to prison.
On June 10th, 1338, Salisbury withdrew his siege from Castle Dunbar and never returned. A small poem written by some of his men conveys his attitude about Black Agnes:
She kept stir in tower and trench,
that brawling, boisterous Scottish wench.
Came I early, came I late,
I found Agnes at the gate.

9.Gallus Mag and Sadie the Goat

In the year following the Civil War, a number of women outlaws populated the American scene. New York claimed barkeep Gallus Mag, a brawler and thief, who displayed neatly labeled jars of pickled human ears she had bitten off in her many fights. 
Sadie the Goat, another New Yorker, was famous for butting strangers in the stomach with such force that they were disabled while she robbed them. One evening Sadie, despondent over losing an ear to Gallus Mag in a recent fight, walked along the New York waterfront. Hearing some shots, she discovered a robbery in progress and watched with fascination as a group of drunken men attempted to steal a small sailing sloop anchored mid-river. A handful of crewmen easily drove the would-be pirates into the river.
Sadie assessed the soundness of the robbers’ scheme as well as their ineptness in executing Hudson River piracy. Confident that she could captain the crew, she helped the floundering men out of the river and proposed her plans. Within days, she discovered a larger sloop, engineered its hijacking, and led her crew on a rampage of robbery, murder, arson, and kidnapping up and down the Hudson and Harlem Rivers. 
Sadie the Goat earned a fortune before the determined and organized farmers who lived along the Hudson River forced the end of her piracy career. She returned to the Fourth Ward, acclaimed as “Queen of the Waterfront.” In a gesture of good will, Gallus Mag returned her ear, and a grateful Sadie mounted it in a locket, which she wore at all times.

10.Mrs. Wright and the women of Groton

Though the Sons of Liberty are celebrated for participating in the American Revolution, few know of the existence of the Daughters of Liberty. As the rebellion against the British escalated, many women were moved to warrior effort. 
In Old Middlesex, Massachusetts, when Prescott moved out with his regiment of “Minute Men,” Mrs. David Wright of Pepperell, Mrs. Job Shattuck of Groton, and a group of local women whose names have not been recorded put on their husbands’ clothing, armed themselves with muskets, axes and pitchforks, and took possession of Jewett’s Bridge, an important link between Pepperell and Groton. They elected Mrs. Wright their captain and vowed that no enemy would cross the bridge.
Captain Leonard Whiting, a heavily armed courier carrying British intelligence dispatches from Canada to Boston, failed to fight his way through Mrs. Wright’s small army and was taken captive. The women discovered the letters and sent them to Colonel Prescott.

11.Kenau Hasselaar

In 1581, the Netherlands came under attack by Spain. At the Dutch city of Harlaam, three thousand fighting men and a unit of women warriors prepared to receive the fury of the Spanish army. The women, led by Kenau Hasselaar, a 47 year-old widow, formed the elite corps at Harlaam. 
When the Spanish army was approaching, she proposed to the military governor that she raise a women’s fighting unit and arm it at her own expense. Permission was quickly granted, and three hundred women instantly volunteered. Each woman, an expert with sword, dagger, and musket, wore light armor over her dress, disdaining to costume as a man.
Kenau Hasselaar’s troops fought in all major actions, both within and without the walls of Harlaam. She also led them in countermining operations and in heavy construction to bolster damaged defenses. The grateful citizens of Harlaam granted Kenau a pension in the form of a permanent public position as a tax collector.
At this point, Kenau Hasselaar disappeared from the pages of history.

12.Madame de Chauteau-Gay

The crusades of the 13th century, as did those preceding, found many women warriors in the Holy Land. A historian of the time wrote, “French women warriors in this period were either duelists who made themselves locally famous in France or hard-fighting crusader soldiers who usually died unidentified.”
Madame de Chauteau-Gay exemplified the former. She was, as one commentator expressed, “…both gallant and handsome; she was generally to be seen on horseback, wearing huge top-boots, kilted skirts and a man’s wide-brimmed hat with steel trimmings and feathers to crown all, sword by side and pistols at saddle bow.”
Though married, she challenged the captain of her lover’s cavalry regiment to a duel after the officer had, in her opinion, mistreated her friend. Aware of Madame de Chauteau-Gay’s fame with sword and pistol, the cowardly officer appeared at the duel with two swordsmen by his side. Madame de Chauteau-Gay’s squire asked her to withdraw because of the unfairness. She responded, “It shall never be said that I encountered them without attacking them.” She engaged all three swordsmen at once and after offering an excellent account of her sword skills, she was, in the end, overcome and killed by her adversaries.

13.Ingean Ruadh and Stikla

Saxo Grammaticus, an ancient Danish historian, wrote:
”There were once women among the Danes who dressed as men and devoted every waking moment to the pursuit of war. Those who had the force of character or were tall and comely were especially apt to enter into such a life. Such martially trained women often functioned as “shield maidens” and accompanied both male and female warriors in battle. They entered legend as “the Valkyries.””
The Irish, who were often terrorized by Viking attacks, remember through their oral tradition on Viking captain, Ingean Ruadh, “the Red Maiden.” Called Rusla in her home country of Norway, the Red Maiden commenced her career with the overthrow of her brother, the king of Norway. She with her constant companion, the shield maiden Stikla, warred against Iceland, the British Isles, Telemark, and Denmark.

14.Vera Krylova

One of the most extraordinary martial records of a Russian woman fighter belonged to a young schoolteacher named Vera Krylova, the daughter of a factory worker. In the summer of 1941, after hearing Molotov’s speech announcing war between Germany and Russia, she enlisted in the medical corps, having experience as a student nurse. Vera worked within 100 feet of the German lines, dressing the wounds of injured soldiers. She was credited with carrying and dragging hundreds of wounded men to safety as bullets from German sharpshooters meant for her exploded the earth around her. At 21, she became a regimental medical inspector with the rank of Captain – and she had not yet begun to fight.
In August of 1941, the German army pushed toward Moscow as the Russian army rallied its resistance. In the confusion, Vera’s company was separated from the main force which she, injured in an earlier skirmish, was riding in a wagon with the wounded. For days the remnant company meandered in deep swamp an forest, trying to avoid capture. As they approached a seemingly deserted village, the Germans sprang an ambush. When the two commanders of the company were shot, the exhausted and leaderless Russians stood numb in the face of the German fire. Quickly mounting a riderless horse, Vera fired into the air several times and ordered the company to follow her. She led them to shelter, while the Germans, using the village as a center, dispatched soldiers into the forest to encircle the Russians. She moved quickly to the middle of the enveloping German offense before its units could link up. She commandeered some retreating Russian artillery and ordered it to fire on the village to soften the German position for her soldiers.
True to her nature, Vera led the first cavalry assault on the German village, but as she approached the edge of town, six Germans rushed from hiding and pulled her from her horse. Vera fought them until a German rifle butt smashed into her face, knocking out three of her teeth. In a fury she cursed and spit blood on her attackers as she kicked and punched. Even her now weakened resistance proved effective, as she bought enough time for her comrades to come to her rescue. Dazed and bleeding, Vera rallied her troops once more and led them deep into the dense forest.
The German army was unprepared for forest warfare, but Vera had a talent for it. Laffin writes that the Germans “… learned some of their costliest lessons in the forest of Bialowieza where Vera Krylova was in action.” After running and fighting for 2 weeks, Vera’s soldiers reached the last German barrier before the safe village of Serpukhov. A 23-hour battle ensued at the river crossing as a German force fought to prevent Vera’s company from joining the main Russian guerrilla force while also stalling for another unit to attack her from the rear. Understanding the enemy’s strategy, Vera waited for the right moment, and then led a charge across the river. The German defenders scattered, and she continued on to Serpukhov. When she entered the town at the head of her unit, it was still only the beginning of her dazzling warrior life.
Vera survived the war and returned to teaching, one of the most honored of Russia’s modern women warriors.

15.Hannah Snell

In the mid eighteenth century, a British woman named Hannah Snell, aka “James Gray” joined the Frazer Marines disguised as a man to search for her lost husband. Her unit shipped for India aboard the Swallow, and she was immediately thrown into the battle for Pondicherry. In the first assault group to cross a river, Hannah waded chest deep under fire from the French batteries. She spent two weeks fighting in the trenches and seven consecutive nights as a frontline picket. For her efforts, she received six bullets in her right leg, five in her left, and one in her stomach. By doctoring the stomach wound herself, she maintained her disguise.
After her recovery she was assigned to the Tartar Pink and later to the Eltham. At first, her shipmates teased her for her lack of beard and called her “Miss Molly Gray;” however, her courage and toughness soon earned her the nickname “Hearty Jimmy.” 
When she retired from the military in 1750, she published her autobiography and launched a speaking tour of England and Europe. With the proceeds she opened an inn, which she named the Woman Warrior.

16.Moll Cutpurse and the Roaring Girls

In the 16th and 17th centuries, urban observers took note of the “Roaring Girls” phenomenon. Averell, in his Marvailous Combat, describes women “who from the top to the toe, are so disguised, that though they be in sexe Woman, yet in attire they appear to be men.” The chamberlain records carried this account dated January 25, 1620: “Yesterday the bishop of London called together all his Clergie about this towne, and told them he had express commandment from the king to will them to inveigh vehemently and bitterly in their sermons against the insolence of our women, and they’re wearing brode brimd hats, pointed dublets, theyre haire cut short or shorne and some of them stillettaes or poniard [knives and daggers], such other trinckets of like moment.”
The cover girl smoking a pipe and carrying a sword, pictured in the Roaring Girls, a book published in London in 1611, depicted a real, historically verifiable model of the type. Mary Firth, also known as Moll Cutpurse, lived in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Her name appears in a number of lawsuits of the period. In her confession recorded in the Consistory of London Corrections Book of 1605-1606, she admits to “frequenting alehouses, taverns, tobacco shops and associating with ruffianly, swaggering and lewd company, namely with cutpurses, blasphemers, drunkards, and other of bad note.” She appeared in court again in 1621 on a charge of wrongful arrest. Mary claimed that because of her reputation for locating stolen goods, she was asked by a friend to find a certain pickpocket and regain the purloined items. Mary sought to represent herself as an underworld policeman to rationalize her high-handed manner with the plaintiffs.
During the English Civil War, Mary single-handedly robbed the commander in chief of the parliamentarian forces, General Fairfax, even though he was an excellent swordsman in the company of an armed guard. She not only slew several guards but also killed the general’s horse so she could not be followed. She relieved Fairfax of his purse but was soon captured and sentenced to be hanged. A bribe of 2000 pounds in gold won her release, and Mary returned to a life of robbery. She died in her mid-seventies, a wealthy woman.

17.Nguyen Thi Minh Khai

In the early 20th C, the Vietnamese defended their homeland against a French invasion, and over one million women participated in the fighting. The initial successes of women in battle spurred more women to join the war, and with these and many other examples to inspire her, Nguyen Thi Minh Khai joined the Vietnamese guerilla force in the early 1940s, eventually leading them in the fight against the French in Nam Ky. She was captured and tortured by the French to learn her troop’s movements. 
While imprisoned, she wrote a poem in her own blood on her cell wall:
A rosy-cheeked woman, 
here I am Fighting side by side with you men.
On my shoulders weighs the hatred which is common to us,
The prison is my school, its inmates my friends,
The sword is my child, the gun is my husband.
Minh Khai cut out her own tongue rather than divulge any secrets, and soon after, was executed. In Vietnam today, women’s groups and military units still take her name to honor her.

Mardaanis of India


India’s Mardaanis!
India has been ranked as the 4 th most dangerous country for women and seeing the crime graph it is self explanatory that Indian women are subjected to sexual assault/harassment day in and day out.
That too when most of the cases go unreported so one can only begin to imagine the mammoth of a problem this is for women.The #MeToo campaign has also brought out stories of sexual assault to light from all over the world.

Well this is the problem but what about the solution. Some will say we need to change the mindset of men who treat women as objects and I agree but that is a long drawn process , also the laws needs to be made stricter and implemented but that too is not in women’s hand.The important thing is to understand the psychology of the attacker .Men assault women because they can as they are not expecting any retaliation, they know they can do it and get away with it.Thats it Period.

So we need to change this music , these dynamics and that can be done if women learn to defend themselves because the same men are afraid to attack homosexuals as they expect to be attacked by them.

Also the human body when confronted with an assault situation goes into fight or flight mode. So to fight one needs to train.

There are so many forms of martial arts like Krav Maga, Karate ,Kungfu, Judo, Taekwondo,Akido,,Thang-ta,Muay Thai,Wing Chun and Indian forms like Gatka, Lathi , Kalaripayattu .Martial arts can be learnt at any age and not only does it equip you to fight but also gives you confidence and makes you self -disciplined, which makes it a necessary life skill in today’s date and age.

There are so many Indian women who are teaching others self defence and topping the list is 76 year old Meenakshi Amma who teaches Kalaripayattu . Richa Gaur who runs the Global Institute of Self-defence and martial arts at Jaipur who herself is a champion in Muay Thai. Then there is 33 year old Sharmila Madhu who teaches Kungfu at Mysore.And many others like Kambung Wanysa from Arunachal Pradesh,Bhavisha Singh, Pashwini Sharma from Saharanpur, Pragya Chabra , Pinki Singh from Patna who are doing this noble work of empowering other women and girls .These women are not only martial artists but an inspiration for millions of women who have been taught that they are weaker than a man.These women everyday are breaking this myth that men are stronger than women.

So my call to action to any woman who reads this, please go and equip yourself with martial arts, please go and enroll yourself today and after you have learnt please teach other women and girls so that there is no more rape ,molestation, acid attacks.

No more “abla naaris “only 

Mardaanis- a force to reckon with!!!

The New Durgas & Kalis!


Women bodybuildersIndia celebrates today the ninth day of Durga Puja or the worship of “Ma Durga ” the epitome of power “Shakti”, it is ironical that in the same country ,violence against women is on an all time high!It’s pretty evident that the feeble form of females happens to be the target of violence against them .And when this very female form becomes strong and brave,it is worshipped ,clearly showing that it’s time that in this “no country for women”, we women need to invoke the “Durga & Kali” in us.

Indian women body builders are the torchbearers of breaking stereotypes of women being feeble and petite to women being strong and muscular.

From 2014 India has seen a surge of women bodybuilders like Shweta Rathore , Yasmine Manak ,Shweta Mehta,Bani J,Ashwin Wasakar, Saritha Devi,Deepika Choudhary ,Mamota Devi,Deepika Choudhary ,Ankita Singh and the latest Miss world at World Bodybuilding Championship 2017-Bhumika Sharma.

From battling stereotypes , to over coming health issues or getting back up after a breakup ,to disapproving parents ,to being made fun off, to battling poverty and no sponsorship .These women have seen it all .
Not only are these women the new “Durgas & Kalis “but they are and will be an inspiration to the coming generation of women in a country like India where there are very few women role models who are genuinely good and authentic as generally young women ape their lives on the lines of actresses and models .
The way ahead for Indian women lies in becoming strong and self reliant financially,emotionally and physically because

 “The Knight in the shining armour ” is no one else but they themselves.

Loitering Solo!


In India there is a definite divide in the public places for men and women. While most men roam aimlessly , women are generally fewer in number and usually seen with some work like going to market or office or are often accompanied by children or other family members.What is missing is the tribe of aimlessly wandering females.

And there in comes the role of solo female travelling which should be an imperative part of an Indian woman’s life as not only travelling solo enhances the confidence of women by bringing them out of the safe confines of their homes but  also makes them depend on oneself which Indian women greatly lack due to little or no participation in the decision making process of the family.

Also to bridge the gender divide in public places it is pertinent that women are seen in large numbers hanging out in public places reclaiming their right to public spaces rather than in malls and cinema halls which provide protection same as their homes and are rather in the category of public private spaces.Also if India is to become a safe country for women , more women need to be seen in public spaces and only women can  change this cultural narrative of women being behind doors rather than on streets.

Solo travelling for women not only empowers women but also gives them the taste of complete freedom which is something which Indian women have been deprived for the longest time.Solo travelling also teaches you to love your own company.Serioulsy you will discover the things about yourself which you never knew existed in the first place.

So the next time just loiter out in your city , that park you have been eyeing for so long or that part of the city you never visited or that park in which you wanted to sleep on the grass or that impromptu trip to that exotic foreign land which you always dreamed of going, just do it because loitering is good for you and refreshing for your soul.

An act of rebellion which makes you feel so powerful.Don’t believe me try it for yourselves. Bring out that cool adventurer, explorer , traveller in you because,

Loitering solo is the new black!!!