The status of women has undergone a sea change over the centuries, from the voiceless, peripheral role of bystanders to the fearless leaders of modern day. Since the dawn of time, women have had to navigate religious oppression and stereotyping to reach where they are today. History itself bears testament to the brilliance and bravado of such individuals as Joan of Arc, Hypatia, Florence Nightingale, Amelia Earhart and many others, whose achievements helped change the world for the better.
What conventional history has largely failed to do, however, is recognize the invaluable contributions of countless other women from all walks of life. Observed throughout March every year, Women’s History Month strives to honor these anonymous females and their spectacular lives. For me personally, it is the quiet strength and resilience of every woman, more than the heroism of famous historical figures, that are truly inspirational.
This article, therefore, is intended to celebrate the mother, the daughter, the sister, the wife or the girlfriend in everyone’s life: the woman who offered support when no one else bothered to, was considerate when others were not and more importantly, was benevolent without expecting reciprocation. We all know someone like that; someone who we have taken for granted.
Of the many women in my life, the one who has been a constant source of motivation is my dear friend, Sandhya. Although we have known each other for only a few years, she is one of my closest confidants, and a force to be reckoned with. We met almost by chance while trekking in the Himalayas. We were both travelling alone in a region that we were completely unfamiliar with, which is probably what brought us together in the first place.
We were understandably nervous, yet eager to make new friends in a place far away from the comfort of our homes. Growing up in India, people are expected to adhere to certain unwritten rules and codes of conduct so as to be deemed respectable. Solo travel, especially in case of women, is something that is still relatively uncommon in this country. Looking back, it was our fierce desire to break free of these fetters that made us instant friends. Indeed, we became such close pals that, during the two-week trip, people actually mistook us for twins.
Born in the historically-rich city of Secunderabad in the Indian state of Telangana, Sandhya has repeatedly shattered the falsehood and hypocrisy of middle-class morality, often at the risk of being criticized and ostracized by those around her. More often than not, children are brought up to become engineers and doctors, irrespective of what they truly aspire to be. Cultural stereotypes are deeply entrenched into the social framework, so much so that many young women (and men) are actively discouraged from travelling alone or pursuing careers in ‘unconventional’ fields.
Having studied in one of the best colleges for fashion design in the entire country, Sandhya was offered a lucrative job in a major retail brand. Over the years, however, a sense of disillusionment crept in, leaving her strangely dissatisfied about working in such a field. Furthermore, she felt as though the hierarchical corporate culture was slowly, yet steadily, smothering her creativity.
Inability to quit, due to family pressure and self-doubt, eventually pushed her into an abyss of depression. After months of therapy, she did what few in her place would have had the courage to do. At a time when she had no one to seek comfort from, Sandhya decided to leave her high-paying job, and start a freelance career as a graphic designer. She moved back to her parents’ house, much to their dismay. Her foray in graphic design was in fact quite accidental, thanks to a friend who helped her get the first project.
Although a tough decision at the time, her big career change has helped her evolve tremendously, bringing her peace and happiness. It has given her freedom and flexibility, allowing her to make use of her creativity in the best possible way. Be it her long struggle with depression or her desire to go beyond the ‘convention’, Sandhya has always emerged victorious. A bright and bubbly soul, she is a glowing exemplar of courage, fortitude and perseverance – phrases that go beyond tropes to actually account for something when it comes to middle-class.
She is an amazing woman, who has taught me so much in so little time. She is currently in the United States, pursuing a graphic design course at an elite institution. In her free time, she can be found roaming around in two of her favorite cities in the US: New York and San Francisco. We are constantly in touch with each other, nostalgically reminiscing about our trek through the picturesque state of Himachal Pradesh. In fact, we will soon be embarking on yet another trip across the Himalayan mountain range.
Strong, inspirational women, everywhere and of all ages, should be celebrated. And that is exactly what Lenovo has done. For this year’s Women’s History Month, the company has created an amazing infographic, honoring the top 10 female innovators under the age of 31 whose Kickstarter projects have revolutionized the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Despite significant improvement of women’s situation in tech-based industries, only 30-percent of the labor force is female, according to a 2015 report. Nevertheless, women are increasingly spearheading innovation, especially in the digital realm, thanks to crowdfunding. The goal of the initiative, therefore, is to pay homage to those young, driven women who have made great strides in the otherwise male-dominated STEM fields.
In the wonderful infographic, Lenovo lists the top 10 women entrepreneurs, whose inventions have garnered lots of attention on Kickstarter. To view the infographic in its entirety, click here.
If you wish to learn more about these incredible female stalwarts and their projects, head over to Lenovo’s official website.
This post was brought to you by Lenovo. The opinions and text are all mine.