Category Archives: Uncategorized

INDIAN WOMEN SKIERS-SMASHING STEREOTYPES -6

Standard

INDIAN WOMEN SKIERS-SMASHING STEREOTYPES -6

Continuing the series of blogs by IWRM on Indian women who have smashed stereotypes and have entered male bastions, here is the sixth piece on Indian Women Skiers.

NEHA AHUJA

Neha Ahuja born 1981 is the first Indian woman in the history of India to qualify for the Winter Olympics, and the first Indian to be competing in the Giant Slalom and Slalom alpine skiing finals. Daughter of an Indian Border Security Officer, Comdt. S. P Ahuja, Principal of Indian Institute of Skiing and Mountaineering and Director of Winter Sports, she was one of the four Indians competing at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin. Her sister Shefali Ahuja represented India in the 3rd Winter Asian games held in Harbin, China.

REENA KAUSHAL

Reena Kaushal became the first Indian woman to ski to the South Pole. Reena, 38, settled in Delhi, made the historic ski-run as part of an eight-woman Commonwealth team that crossed a 900 km Antarctic ice trek to reach the South Pole to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Commonwealth. Skiing eight to 10 hours a day, she and her teammates from seven other countries covered the frozen southern continent to the pole in about 40 days. Each skier towed a sledge with food and gear weighing some 80 kg. The skiers, she said in a statement online, braved blinding blizzards, jet speed winds blowing in excess of 130 km an hour, hidden crevasses and temperatures of minus 40 degrees Celsius to reach their “destiny.” Besides India, the expedition comprised women from Brunei, Cyprus, Ghana, Jamaica, New Zealand, Singapore and Britain.

HANIYA ZEHRA

Syed Haniya Zehra, has been skiing the mountains of Gulmarg since she was in class 4. Having been trained by Manzoor Ahmed Ladakhi, getting selected in the Asian Games junior winter championship was a dream come true for her. It was the first time that she got an opportunity to display her talent at an international level. Recently the 13th Asian Junior Ski Championships, 2014 were held in Dizin, Iran where three participants from Kashmir were selected, including the only girl skier Syed Haniya. In 2009, Haniya had participated in alpine skiing at Pyoengchang, South Korea where she won the gold and wrote a new chapter in the history of sports in Kashmir. Haniya says that Gulmarg has the best quality of snow and slopes, but the development facilities are almost non-existent. Haniya attributes her success to her coach Manzoor Ahmad Ladakhi. “If today I am so good in the sports it is only because of my coach who has been training me for more than 10 years now. He has helped polish my skills all the way,” says the young skier.

SABIYA NABI

Sabiya Nabi, 17, had her parents support from the beginning to join this game. Sabiya was 9 years old when she first sloped down the baby slope, helped by her father. She has done all the three skiing courses through youth services and sports. Sabiya says, “The journey till now has been exciting but my dream does not stop here. I want to participate in the winter Olympics someday and win there.” Sabiya, who hails from Tangmarg, has won six medals till now at many local and national events. As a child she had gone to Gulmarg with her father and, on watching a foreign female skier, had decided that that was what she also wanted to do.

ABIDA KHAN

Another young skier from the valley, Abida Nabi from Srinagar, has been tallying medals at almost all the events she has participated in till now. Abida has so far won 11 medals in the under-19 championships at the local as well as the national level. Abida attributes her success to her father who has trained her for almost 10 years now. She feels that more and more girls should take up this sport. Abida says that a lot of things need to be improved in the valley so that more girls would come up and join this sport. “We don’t have a racing culture here, and also, we don’t have a proper knowledge of this sport. The government should come forward and make the girls aware of this. Unfortunately, we never get a word of encouragement from the government,” Abida says.

ZEHYA GULZAR

Zehva Gulzar from Srinagar won silver in the Gulmarg Cup when she was in class 9. Zehwa is also a part of the under-19 junior skiers and has so far won a silver in nationals and a bronze in the state championship. Aged 17, Zehwa says that she has a dream to participate in the winter Olympics and represent India in alpine skiing. “I have a passion for skiing, though studies always come first for me. I will continue to ski and win for my state in the future,” she says.

AANCHAL THAKUR

21-year-old Aanchal Thakur went against all odds to bag India’s first ever international medal in skiing at the Alpine Ejder 3200 Cup, organized by the Fédération Internationale de Ski (highest governing body in the world for international winter sports) in Turkey. The bronze medalist who hails from a small village called Burua in Manali, “I started well and managed to take a good lead, which helped later in getting the third-place finish.

Advertisements

INDIAN WOMEN SKYDIVERS-SMASHING STEREOTYPES -5

Standard

INDIAN WOMEN SKYDIVERS-SMASHING STEREOTYPES -5

Continuing the series of blogs by IWRM on Indian women who have smashed stereotypes and have entered male bastions, here is the fifth piece on Indian Women Skydivers.

Rachel Thomas

She was the first Indian woman to skydive from 7,000 ft over the North Pole on the 20th of April 2002, to commemorate 150 years of the Indian Railways. During the North Pole expedition, she stayed on the ice for 6 days in – 45-55°C temperature. A former employee of Indian Railways, she was the first female to compete for India in a skydiving competition in 1987 and has the record of being the first Indian female to skydive over the North Pole in 2002. She completed 650 jumps in 18 countries during her career, since her first jump in 1979. A winner of the National Adventure Sports Award, she was honored again by the Government of India, again in 2005, with the fourth highest Indian civilian award of Padma Shri.

Rachel Thomas was born in 1955, at Chittranjan, West Bengal, India. Her parents Alexander and Elizabeth Ittercherya were from Kerala and both worked with the Indian Railways. She has a sister Susan. She did her Senior Cambridge from St. Joseph’s Convent Chandernagar, in West Bengal. She was married at 17 to Capt. K. Thomas. Rachel’s first child, Dennis, was born a year later and her daughter, Annie, at the age of 20, who was a Femina Miss India winner in 1998. The couple divorced after 10 years. Rachel graduated from Agra University, with a Gold Medal in Literature. She later completed her Bachelor in Education from Bakunti Devi College at Agra with a First Division. She taught at St. George’s School Agra for several years before she joined the Indian Railways.

Skydiving career

On the 20th of April 1979, Rachel became the first female skydiver for India, starting her career by completing her “A” license from the Skydiving Federation of India at Agra. Rachel was just 24 years old, a mother of two kids and a civilian when she had achieved this feat. A year later she completed 15 jumps which led to her joining the Skydiving Demonstration Team. Rachel did her first demonstration jump at Jabalpur for the Army Ordnance C, Celebration using a Para Commander for the first time. Rachel was part of the Demonstration Team for Federation Aeronautical International Annual Conference, hosted by the Aero Club of India. The jump was completed at Safderjung Airport, New Delhi. This led her to meet Mr. Claude Gillard, President of the Australian Parachuting Federation, a Delegate at the Conference, who invited her to attend the Australian National Parachuting Championship in Australia the following year. Rachel received a scholarship from the Hon. Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to attend the USA for further training. She completed over 150 Jumps at Raeford, North Carolina. She also completed her first tandem jump and underwent the Basic Accelerated Freefall Course. Rachel also trained as an Accuracy Jumper.

Achievements

• Was honored by the late President of Macedonia H.E. Boris Trajkovski, in 2002 after her North Pole Jump

• Has a total of 656 freefall jumps to her credit.

• Has jumped from nearly 16 different aircraft.

• Has skydived in Australia, U.S.A, Holland, South Korea, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, Russia, Austria, Chez Republic and Jordan (11 Countries in all)

The former Railway executive has over 650 jumps to her credit in 11 countries including Australia, USA, Holland, South Korea, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, Russia, Austria, Czech Republic and Jordan. A number of them were demonstration jumps for important occasions.

Shital Mahajan

She is an Indian extreme sportsperson, skydiver and the holder of Six World records and 17 National records in the sport. She is known to be the first woman to have done her first ever parachute jump without any training over the Geographical North pole in minus 37 degree Celsius from 2400 ft, and first accelerated free fall jump without any trials over the Antarctica – South pole from 11,600 feet, in minus 38 degree Celsius the youngest woman to jump over both the North and South Poles, and the first woman jumper to perform it without trials. The Government of India honored Mahajan in 2011, with the fourth highest civilian award of Padma Shri. Shital Mahajan was born on September 19, 1982 at Pune in the Western Indian state of Maharashtrato mother Mamata Mahajan, a housewife, and father Kamalakar Mahajan, a machine worker at Tata Motors. She has received a BSc in Zoology from Fergusson College in Pune. Inspired by the feats of a friend’s brother Wing Cdr Kamal Singh Oberh, she developed a fascination with para jumping. Her first jump was on 18 April 2004, and she is reported to have completed 700 jumps since then.

Skydiving career

On 18th April 2004, Shital Mahajan has performed First Parachute jump of life without any practice over Geographic North Pole Arctic Circle in a freezing temperature of minus 37 Degree Celsius from a height of 2400 feet from a Russian MI – 8 Helicopter. On 18 April 2004 at 2100 h (IST) Shital set a new World record by becoming the First woman in the World to make a maiden Parachute Jump of life over the North Pole. She is the fourth Indian, and the second Indian woman, to Parachute over the North Pole. On 19 February 2006, Shital Mahajan has received ” Shiv Chatrapati Maharashtra State Sports Special Award 2004 – 2005″ by Chief Minister of Maharashtra Shri. Vilasrao Deshmukh. On 29 August 2006, Shital Mahajan has received “Tensing Norgay National Adventure Award” by Honorable President of India A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. 11 to 18 October 2006 Ms. Mahajan went to China as a Part of China Delegation along with Ministry of sports. Where Ms. Mahajan Represented India as Sports Person. On 15th December 2006, Shital Mahajan has performed First Accelerated Free Fall Parachute Jump of life over the White Continent of Antarctica South Pole in a freezing temperature of minus 38 Degree Celsius from a height of 11600 feet from a Twin Otter aircraft. On 19 September 2010, Shital did her comeback in skydiving sport by performing her record attempting feat of Wing Suit jump at Skydiver Empuriabrava in Spain. She did complete her 20-wingsuit jumps basic Training, with Finland based World Famous Wing Suit Inventor and Instructor Jari Kuosma. after performing her Jump with Wingsuit, she became First Indian Civilian woman to fly with a Wing Suit.

On 24 March 2011, Shital Mahajan has received India’s Fourth Highest Civilian Award “PADMA SHRI” by Honorable President of India Pratibha Tai Patil for her achievements in skydiving sport. On 23 October 2011, Shital Mahajan did skydiving from Hot Air Balloon from Highest altitude 5800 ft at Skydive Arizona. In December 2011, Ms. Mahajan completed her Coach rating in skydiving in Spain at Skydive Sevilla with Instructors academy under famous examiner Marcus Laser and became First Indian Civilian Woman Skydiving Coach.

In 2012, Shital started the first of its kind Skydiving Academy of India in Pune, Phoenix Skydiving Academy, so that this unknown sport gets recognition in our country and to further promote the sport of Parachuting. In September 2012, she participated in P3 skydiving formation camp in California. She was the only Indian who participated in that skydiving camp and Shital is the first Indian Civilian woman who made it to 100-way skydiving formation camp. She represented India in skydiving formation camp in the USA became First Indian civilian woman to represent India in 79-way skydiving formation in the air at 18000 ft.

On 19 February 2017 Shital Mahajan performed her first jump over 6th continent – Africa in Johannesburg at Skydive Pretoria. Then she went to South America – Brazil at Sau Paulo at skydive Go fly parachuting club to complete her 7th continent skydive. On 22 February she performed her first jump in Brazil and completed her skydiving over all 7 continents. She became First Woman in the World to Skydive on 7 Continents 1. Antarctica, 2. Australia, 3. Asia, 4. Africa, 5. Europe, 6. North America, 7. South America, on 22 February 2017. It took 10 Years 2 months 6 days to complete this feat.

On 20 May 2017, with help of oxygen mask and cylinder, Shital Mahajan performed High Altitude Low Opening skydiving (HALO) jump in San Francisco at Sky Dance Skydiving Center from 30,500 feet Above Ground Level (AGL). The free fall speed was around 230 km per hour. Shital did open the parachute at 5000ft then speed was 90 km per hour. Till now no Indian woman has done skydiving from this altitude. Therefore, Shital Mahajan became First Indian Woman to perform HALO jump from 30,500ft (High Altitude Low Opening skydiving jump).

Shital has made many records for herself now she wants to create more 100 Shital Mahajan’s from society to increase performance in the skydiving sport. Ms. Mahajan wishes you take Indian skydiving team in Skydiving World championships to represent our country. MS. Mahajan’s extraordinary talent of motivating people bringing out the best in youngsters and senior citizens. Lots of handicap and senior citizens have been inspired by Shital and found their limitless self-confidence and some of them have discovered their own qualities which they didn’t even know they had.

Awards and Recognitions

Shital Mahajan was awarded Kusumagraj Pratisthan’s Godavary Gaurav Puraskar in March 2005.

On 19 February 2006, Shital Mahajan has received ” Shiv Chatrapati Maharashtra State Sports Special Award” 2004 – 2005 by Chief Minister of Maharashtra Shri. Vilasrao Deshmukh.

She was awarded “Venutai Chavan Yuva Puraskar” by Padma Bhushan Anna Hajare in 2005.

On 29 August 2006, Shital Mahajan has received “Tensing Norgay National Adventure Award” by Honorable President of India A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

On 24 March 2011, Ms. Shital Mahajan has received India’s Fourth Highest Civilian Award “PADMA SHRI” by Honorable President of India Pratibha Tai Patil for her achievements in skydiving sport. Shital is a US certified A, B, C and D skydiver and trainer and is the first Indian civilian woman skydiving coach. She has been trained to jump from 6 different types of aircrafts and she has jumped from heights ranging from 2400 ft to 180000 ft height.

INDIAN WOMEN FIGHTER PILOTS-SMASHING STEREOTYPES 4

Standard

Continuing the series of blogs by IWRM on Indian women who have smashed stereotypes and have entered male bastions, here is the fourth piece on Indian Women Fighter Pilots.

Flying Officers Avani Chaturvedi, Bhawana Kanth and Mohana Singh on 18 June 2016 were commissioned as India’s first three women Fighter Pilots .

Avani Chaturvedi became the first Indian woman to fly the MiG 21 Bison, solo. Not only did this declare that a woman from a small town in Madhya Pradesh could become a combat pilot, but it exponentially contributed to the complex narrative surrounding gender inequality in India.For decades, perennial monologues by men about pregnancy, practical ‘ineptitude’ and menopause have denied women a spot in a gamut of high-pressure professions, including the armed forces. “There is a strong belief that combat, by nature, is a male occupation; that the army is a male space and combat the most masculine of all aspects of war,”

Chaturvedi has worked hard in destabilising that belief. She underwent six months of intensive training at the Air Force Academy in Dundigal, Hyderabad, before she was inducted into the IAF fighter squadron. “The best part of being a pilot is that you are flying an aircraft—it is a machine. The aircraft does not know who is sitting behind it, so the machine will behave in the same way it would behave with a male pilot,” Chaturvedi’s defence family gave her unconditional support, irrespective of her gender. The Indian Air Force, however, has traditionally been structured along immutable gendered lines. Chaturvedi received her Bachelors in Technology from Banasthali Vidyapith, a university in rural Rajasthan’s Tonk district.

Bhawana Kanth hails from Darbhanga district in Bihar. As a child, she always dreamt of flying planes. She opted for the fighter stream after successfully completing her stage I training.Daughter of an officer in the Indian Oil Corporation, she set the goal of becoming a fighter pilot and serve the nation.

Mohana Singh comes from Jhunjhunu district of Rajasthan. Her grandfather was a flight gunner in Aviation Research Centre and father is a warrant officer in the IAF. Mohana is excited to continue the family legacy of serving the nation.

While women pilots have been flying helicopters and transport aircraft since 1991 in the IAF, it was last year when the government decided to allow women into fighter jet cockpits.

In a first, a woman has been inducted as a pilot in the Indian Navy. Shubhangi Swaroop, who hails from Uttar Pradesh, will soon be flying Maritime Reconnaissance aircraft.

For Shubhangi, who is the daughter of a Naval commander, its a dream come true on being selected as a pilot. Though Shubhangi is the first Naval woman pilot, the Navy’s Aviation branch has had women officers operating as air traffic control officers and as ‘observers’ in the aircraft who are responsible for communication and weapons.

There have been women fighter pilots in other countries long before India .A brief history of such brave women of some major countries are listed below.

1st Turkish Woman Fighter Pilot

Sabiha Gökçen  was a Turkish aviator. She was the first Turkish female combat pilot, aged 23. According to some sources, including Guinness World Records, she was also the world’s first female fighter pilot, being enrolled in the Military Aviation Academy in Eskisehir in 1936.As girls were not being accepted by the War College in Turkey in those years, Sabiha Gökçen was provided, on Atatürk’s orders, with a personalized uniform, and attended a special education programme of eleven months at the Tayyare Mektebi (Aviation School) in Eskişehir in the academic year 1936-1937. After receiving her flight patents (diploma) she trained to become a war pilot at the 1st Airplane Regiment in Eskişehir for six months.She improved her skills by flying bomber and fighter planes at the 1st Aircraft Regiment in Eskişehir Airbase and got experience after participating in the Aegean and Thrace exercises in 1937. In that same year, she took part in the Dersim rebellion and became the first Turkish female air force combat pilot. A report of the General Staff mentioned the “serious damage” that had been caused by her 50 kg bomb to a group of fifty fleeing “bandits.” and she was awarded with a takdirname (letter of appreciation). She was also awarded the Turkish Aeronautical Association‘s first “Murassa (Jeweled) Medal” for her superior performance in this operation.

In 1938, she carried out a five-day flight around the Balkan countries to great acclaim. In the same year, she was appointed “chief trainer” of the Türkkuşu Flight School of the Turkish Aeronautical Association, where she served until 1954 as a flight instructor and became a member of the association’s executive board. She trained four female aviators, Edibe Subaşı, Yıldız Uçman, Sahavet Karapas and Nezihe Viranyalı. Sabiha Gökçen flew around the world for a period of 28 years until 1964. Her book entitled “A Life Along the Path of Atatürk” was published in 1981 by the Turkish Aeronautical Association to commemorate Atatürk’s 100th birthday. Throughout her career in the Turkish Air Force, Gökçen flew 22 different types of aircraft for more than 8,000 hours, 32 hours of which were active combat and bombardment missions.

1st British Woman Fighter Pilot

Joanna Mary Salter (born 27 August 1968 in Bournemouth) was Britain’s first female fast jet pilot flying the Panavia Tornado ground attack aircraft with 617 Squadron, she later became an inspirational speaker. In November 2016 she joined PwC as a manager, responsible for digital capabilities within the People and Organisation practice. Salter joined the Royal Air Force at the age of 18 to be an Engineering Officer but she went on to train as a pilot after the British government announced that women would be allowed to fly jet aircraft in 1992. As part of her engineering training she had studied at the Royal Military College of Science. Salter was awarded her wings on 3 Apr 1992 and at the end of 1992 she finished her fast jet training at RAF Brawdy with Dawn Hadlow (nee Bradley), who became Britain’s first RAF female flight instructor.

In August 1994 Salter joined 617 Squadron at RAF Lossiemouth in August 1994 as a Flight Lieutenant, and was declared combat ready by the RAF on 21 February 1995. Salter was the first woman to be an operational Tornado pilot and she later flew from both Turkey and Saudi Arabia in protection of the No-fly zone over Iraq. Whilst flying ground attack Tornados, Salter started a MBA course with the Open University in 1996, being sponsored by the MoD, she completed the course in 1999.

1st German Woman Fighter Pilot

Hanna Reitsch (29 March 1912 – 24 August 1979) was Germany’s most famous female aviator and test pilot, starting in the early 1930s. During the Nazi era, she and Melitta von Stauffenberg flight tested many of the regime’s new aircraft.

She set more than 40 flight altitude records and women’s endurance records in gliding before and after World War II. In the 1960s, she was sponsored by the West German foreign office as a technical adviser in Ghana and elsewhere and founded a gliding school in Ghana, where she worked for Kwame Nkrumah.

1st French Woman Fighter Pilot

CommandantCaroline Aigle (12 September 1974 – 21 August 2007) was a Frenchaviator who achieved a historical first when, at the age of 25, she became the first woman fighter pilot in the French Air Force. Her promising military career was cut short by death from cancer seven years later. She was posthumously awarded the Médaille de l’Aéronautique (Aeronautics Medal). After graduating from the Polytechnique, Aigle chose to join the French Air Force. On 28 May 1999, she became the first woman to receive the Air Force’s coveted fighter pilot wings. She was assigned to the Mirage 2000-5 in the escadron 2/2Côte-d’Or” in 2000, and promoted to the rank of Commandant (roughly equivalent to Major) in 2005. Among the top candidates, she was also on the verge of being selected as an astronaut for the European Space Agency. By the time of her sudden death three weeks before her 33rd birthday (the cancer, a melanoma, had been diagnosed only a month earlier), she had accumulated a total of 1600 hours of flight time.

Aigle was a keen athlete and represented the Air Force in inter-service sports competitions. She was the 1997 French military champion in triathlon, followed by the 1997 triathlon world championship in military team competition. Still competing in 1999, she and her team won the triathlon world military vice-championship. She was also a skydiver and free-fall parachutist.

1st Russian Woman Fighter Pilot

Lydia Vladimirovna Litvyak (August 18, 1921 in Moscow – August 1, 1943 in Krasnyi Luch), also known as Lilya, was a fighter pilot in the Soviet Air Force during World War II. With twelve solo victories and four shared kills over a total of 66 combat missions, over about two years of missions, she was the first female fighter pilot to shoot down an enemy plane, the first of two female fighter pilots who have earned the title of fighter ace, and the holder of the record for the greatest number of kills by a female fighter pilot. She was shot down near Orel during the Battle of Kursk as she attacked a formation of German planes.

1st American Woman Fighter Pilot

Jeannie Marie Leavitt (born c. 1967) is a United States Air Forcegeneral officer. She became the United States Air Force’s first female fighter pilot in 1993, and was the first woman to command a USAF combat fighter wing.

Leavitt began her Undergraduate Pilot Training at Laughlin Air Force Base in Texas in 1992. She was being trained as a T-38 instructor pilot at Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio when restrictions on women flying combat missions were dropped in April 1993. Thereafter she began formal combat training in the McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle, becoming the service’s first female fighter pilot.1st Lt. Flynn sitting in the cockpit of a F-15E during her time with the 555th Fighter Squadron.Leavitt’s F-15 flight hours have included 300 combat hours, mostly over Afghanistan and Iraq. On one mission, during Operation Southern Watch in 1996, she supported a Royal Air ForceTornado GR1 under threat from an Iraqi Roland surface-to-air missile.

From 2002 to 2010, Leavitt earned three master’s degrees; a Master of Business Administration from Auburn University in Alabama (2002), a Master of Military Operational Art and Science from the Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell Air Force Base (2004), and a Master of National Security Strategy from the National War College (2010).

Leavitt’s first command was the 333d Fighter Squadron at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina. She was appointed Commander of the 4th Fighter Wing, at the same base in June 2012.

1st Israeli Woman Fighter Pilot

Roni Zuckerman, the first female jet fighter pilot for the Israeli Air Force, received her wings in 2001. Zuckerman is the granddaughter of Zivia Lubetkin and Icchak Cukierman (also known as Yitzhak Zuckerman) whose nom de guerre was “Antek”. Her grandparents were among the leaders of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising during World War II and among the 34 fighters who survived. They were founding members of Lohamei HaGeta’ot (“the Ghetto Fighters’ kibbutz”), which was established near Haifa in the late 1940s by survivors of the ghettos, and it was there that Zuckerman was raised.

Although women had served as pilots during the Israeli War of Independence and a few years thereafter, the Israeli Defence Forces had, until 1995, denied women the opportunity to become pilots. After the prohibition was lifted, the first female graduate was F-16 navigator “Shari” in 1998, followed three years later by Zuckerman, the first female jet-fighter pilot in IAF history.Another Israeli woman who took the course at the same time as Lt Zuckerman, but failed to qualify, described to a reporter the training as “mentally and physically exhausting.” She stated, “I did 100 push-ups a day, which is difficult for a woman. Of the women on the course, only Roni qualified.

1st Chinese Women Fighter Pilots

China has a significant number of female pilots. According to china.com.cn, the PLA Air Force (PLAAF) has had 545 female student pilots in its history, of which 328 have graduated and 52 of them are currently flying military aircraft.

In 1951, the Chinese government decided to admit the first group of female pilots.

In 2009, the first 16 female fighter jet pilots graduated from the Air Force’s Third Aviation College. That year was also the first time female pilots participated in the National Day parade by flying fighter jets.

Liu Yang and Wang Yaping, two female pilots, were also chosen to participate in astronomical missions with the Shenzhou-9 and 10 spacecraft in 2012 and 2013 respectively.

Piloting fighter jets involves more danger and pressure than other types of aircraft, such as transportation craft or helicopters and it’s traditionally been seen as difficult for women. It requires pilots to be strong physically and China is intentionally training greater number of female pilots because other countries’ experience with such pilots seems to indicate that they often are more careful, and particularly excel in certain tasks, such as recognizing maps and operating delicate equipment.

1st Korean Women Fighter Pilots

The supreme leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea met two of the country’s female fighter pilots.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watched “with satisfaction” as a pair of female fighter pilots flew supersonic jets in a series of drills. He called the pilots “very admirable” and “flowers of the sky.”He said they should be proud of mastering supersonic jets that are, “hard for men to fly.” He said they were the first female fighter pilots “in the history of army building,”.

1st Pakistani Woman Fighter Pilot

Pakistan’s first female fighter pilot

Ayesha Farooq fought her mother to pursue her dream; ‘In our society most girls don’t even think about doing things as flying an aircraft,’

With an olive green head scarf poking out from her helmet, Ayesha Farooq flashes a cheeky grin when asked if it is lonely being the only war-ready female fighter pilot in the Islamic republic of Pakistan.

Farooq, from Punjab province’s historic city of Bahawalpur, is one of 19 women who have become pilots in the Pakistan Air Force over the last decade – there are five other female fighter pilots, but they have yet to take the final tests to qualify for combat.

1st Afghani Woman Fighter Pilot

Niloofar Rahmani (Persian: نیلوفر رحمانی‎, born 1992) is the first female fixed-wing Air Force aviator in Afghanistan‘s history and the first female pilot in the Afghan military since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.

1st UAE’s Woman Fighter Pilot

Mariam al-Mansouri (Arabic: مريم المنصوري‎), (born 1979 in Abu Dhabi), is the first female fighter pilot of the United Arab Emirates. She was one of the first women to join the United Arab Emirates Air Force (UAEAF) academy after women were allowed to join, graduating in 2007.She flies an F-16 Fighting Falcon and lead UAE mission airstrikes against ISIS over Syria.

1st Somalian Woman Fighter Pilot

Asli Hassan Abade was one of the first women pilots in Africa; she is also the first pilot known and so far only female pilot in the (Somali Air Force – SAF).She soloed her first flight on 9 September 1976.

1st Danish Woman Fighter Pilot

Line Bonde (born c.1979) is a Danish fighter pilot. In July 2006, aged 27, she became the first female Danish fighter pilot, flying an F-16 jet fighter.

1st Swedish Woman Fighter Pilot

Captain Anna Dellham recently completed her first Gripen solo flight to become the first female Gripen pilot in the Swedish Air Force.

Captain Anna Dellham becomes the first female Gripen pilot in the
Swedish Air Force. Photo: Swedish Armed Forces

In fact, Anna Dellham is Sweden’s only female combat pilot whatsoever. She was awarded her wings in the mid-1990s and flew the Viggen until the aircraft was taken out of service before going onto fly the SK 60. She now works with Gripen’s development at FTS, the Aeronautical Command of the Air Force Headquarters.

1st Norwegian Woman Fighter Pilot

Mette Grøtteland (born 1969) became the first female fighter pilot in the Royal Norwegian Air Force after qualifying to fly jet fighter aircraft in 1992.

INDIAN WOMEN SKATERS-SMASHING STEREOTYPES -3

Standard

Continuing the series of blogs by IWRM on Indian women who have smashed stereotypes and have entered male bastions, here is the third piece on Indian Women Skaters.

India’s 1st Pro Female Skater Atita Verghese Teaches Young Girls To Skate To Defy Social Taboos

In a country that is more synonymous with traditional culture, conservatism, and women not pushing against the social norms, Atita Verghese is a breath of fresh and is determined to lead a whole generation of other young women in her wake as she skates her way through a social revolution. She is India’s most prominent female skateboarder and began grinding the rails at age 19 in Goa. She has been a pro for nearly 3 years and today she trains many of Bangalore’s budding skaters. It wasn’t always easy being the only girl in a very male-dominated sport, let alone in a country where there are certain expectations placed on women as they grow up.

Atita’s mother sadly became an acid attack victim, a crime that is overwhelmingly aimed at women in order to keep them from breaking away from the gender expectations. It wasn’t just about rebelling against the social norms, it was also a way to challenge the way gender violence has been allowed to go unchecked and unaccounted for many years.

“We have to allow [partnerships] between all genders to exist harmoniously and find a solution for this self-destructive world that we live in. The idea of locking women up and covering them up is not a solution, it is part of the problem. We must really investigate and play close attention to how we raise our boys, and start with them first,” she says.

Atita says the skate parks she visits and helps build become a safe haven where stereotypes surrounding gender, sexuality and other taboos do not matter. Along with the emphasis on skating, Atita and her crew teach young kids math, English, photography, art etc. She describes her role as now more of social worker, because of the way they were now seen by local neighborhoods who would donate and encourage Atita and her crew to continue helping the children. What started with a passion for skating and wanting to do life on her own terms, has become a valuable empowering tool for girls in boys who she comes in contact with to think differently about the world and find a way to make positive change in their communities.

“There is something inherently wrong with the way in which society has conditioned our idea of femininity. The misconception here is that one needs to be meek in order to be feminine. Consequently, girls grow up to be very conscious of their bodies. Young girls need to understand that you can be strong, get on the skateboard, and go home and wear nail polish, all at the same time,”

“Our societal structure is such that, once a girl hits puberty, it is considered inappropriate for her to be seen jumping around outside. Generation after generation of female oppression has resulted in women lagging behind physically. Girls tend to be hesitant and often shy about falling while learning. It becomes necessary to hold their hands, show them what is possible and get them involved in the alternate sub-culture that is evolving in cities such as Bangalore,” she added.

Atita spearheads an organization called Girls Skate India in 2014, and hosted a tour featuring 12 other girls from around the world, traveling across India teaching other young girls how to skate and build ramps. Girls Skate India is the first and largest platform to feature, connect and increase the number of female skateboarders in the country and they are mostly self-funded.

“I truly believe there is a female revolution happening in skateboarding right now and the fight is what will push us to achieve more to realize what we are capable of,” She had found her mission – to encourage more girls to take up skateboarding.

In December 2015, Atita and the Girl Skate India team organised India’s first all-girls skateboarding tour, covering four locations in India – Bengaluru, Goa, Kovalam (Tamil Nadu) and Hampi (Karnataka). Atita brought together 12 female skateboarders from nine different countries and they travelled in a bus to the different locations, spreading the message of skateboarding and also helping to build another skate park in Bengaluru.

Atita’s dream is to make skateboarding in India a movement as big as Skateistan, which started in Afghanistan and has now also spread to Cambodia and South Africa. 40% of Skateistan’s skateboard enthusiasts are girls and 60% come from underprivileged backgrounds.

Chennai girl set for Belgium World Skating Championship

Aarathy Kasturiraj, a skater from the city, has many accolades to her credit. And now, this young medical student is set to participate in the World Championship in Belgium this month. Aarathy is the only girl skater from the state to represent India.

Nineteen-year-old Aarathy, who practises for almost seven hours a day, currently concentrates on building endurance to prepare for both short and long races in the championship. “I will be competing in 200m, 500m, 1000m, 10km, 15km and 42km races. For that, I have been following a strict diet to gain energy, apart from morning warm-ups at Island Grounds and long distance practices, for which I skate from Chennai to Mahabalipuram.”

She has also undergone several international training sessions, says that she started doing roller skating since she was seven. She says, “I got attracted to skating after watching children doing it at Anna Nagar Tower Park during my regular visits there with my mother. And once I started to practise, the speed and balance gave me a thrill and helped me enjoy the sport. She has won 112 medals in the sport. Frequent falls, numerous bruises and a bleeding chin haven’t deterred her from skating.

Aarathy was seven when she took to skating. She is the first girl from India to finish 10 in the World Championship held at China in 2009 and in Korea in 2011. “These victories and bagging the National Child Award for Exceptional Achievement in 2008 are special to me. I started skating in 2001 and participated in my first Nationals in 2002. It took me four years to win my first National gold medal and I now have 24 National medals to my credit. I have 112, of which 95 are gold, 10 are silver and seven, bronze. This includes medals won both at the national and international levels.

I train six hours a day…5 to 8 in the morning and 5.30 to 8.30 in the evening.” The time in between is spent at college (SRMC), cramming her mind with Gray’s Anatomy. “I return from college by 4.30, quickly change, eat and set out for practice. Once I get back, I spend an hour studying…that’s on some days.”  I have no time to go out with friends, or go partying, no time for television…I also have to follow a healthy diet and stay off junk food. But I don’t regret it because I know I have to give up something to achieve something.”

“From when I started, till now, I have seen quite a few people taking to the sport. At the District or State Championships, you see a good turnout,” she says, pleased with the growing popularity of the sport.

When Girls Skateboard in India

INDIAN WOMEN SURFERS-SMASHING STEREOTYPES 2

Standard

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

Standard

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!

Standard

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.