They shattered stereotypes. Won medals. Conquered the ramp. Shut sexists up. Like. A. Boss.

Ten times Indian women totally owned 2016
news 2016 Tuesday, December 20, 2016 - 17:19

From actors to sportpersons and regular people like you and I, 2016 saw a number of women from different walks of life slamming stereotypes by the dozen. Some did it by winning laurels, others by giving it back to a society that is deep rooted in sexism, mysoginy and everything in between.

These strong, feisty women have also helped initiate conversations on issues that were once swept under the rug.

Here, we take a look at some of those "badass" women who gave it back to the world, in style. 

Sakshi Malik

Wrestler Sakshi Malik clinched a bronze in the Women's Freestyle 58kg category at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Malik is also the first woman wrestler from India to bag an Olympic medal.

Hailing from Rohtak in Haryana, Malik took up wrestling when she was just 12 years old and had to face a lot of resistance from locals when she took up the sport. 

PV Sindhu

The ace shuttler became the first Indian woman to win an individual Olympics Silver, at the Rio Olympics.

"It was a step-by-step journey. First the national circuit, then the international circuit. I was the first (Indian girl) to win a bronze at the World Championships. Slowly I got confidence in myself. I was down with injuries, ups and downs but then finally I made it," Sindhu said after her historic win. 

Earlier this month, Sindhu vanquished her Rio tormentor Carolina Marin of Spain- who had won the Olympics gold this year- in Group B to sail into the semi-finals of the BWF Superseries Finals. She later however went down to Sung Ji Hyun of South Korea in the semi-finals of the tournament at the Hamdan Sports Complex in Dubai

Reshma Qureshi

She is the woman who shattered all stereotypes around beauty to become the first Indian acid-attack survivor to walk the ramp at the New York Fashion Week. Now she pursues a career in modelling, is a vlogger and an activist.

Earlier this year she told The Guardian, "I want to tell the world– do not see us in a weak light. Why should we not enjoy our lives? What happened to us is not our fault and we’ve done nothing wrong and so we should also move forward in life."

Mary Kom

After failing to qualify at the Rio Olympics, rumours about the five-time World Champion boxer quitting boxing floated had started doing the rounds. However, putting a rest to the speculations, she soon announced her comeback in December and said that she would stretch her career by another "three to four" years with 2018 Asian, Commonwealth Games and Tokyo Olympics in focus.

"I am feeling very positive once again and just wait and watch what I do now," she told The Indian Express.

Kangana Ranaut

The "Queen" of Bollywood battled a hundred stereotypes not only through her riveting films, but her insightful interviews, post the controversy with actor Hrithik Roshan.

Battling slut shaming, name-calling to an extent of being called a "witch" pursuing "black magic", she emerged triumphant with sheer courage, logic and elegance.

"If a woman is super successful, she is called a psychopath. If a woman is sexually active, she’s called a whore. But, my success is my sweet revenge against controversy," she told NDTV.

Rupa Devi

Rupa Devi, who hails from Tamil Nadu, fought poverty and destiny to become India’s first international referee for FIFA.

She began playing football at a very young age and recollecting those memories to TOI she said, "As a child, I used to stand on the sides of the ground where the game was played and kick the ball, whenever it came to me".

But for her financial problems, she couldn’t continue with the sport and instead steered towards being a referee.

Sunny Leone

Bold and beautiful, this woman has become a successful Bollywood star despite being shamed for her "past". 

Some of her interviews this year battled with all the judgements and objectifications the society has been hurling at her.

A leading news channel's interview of Leone in January was labelled misogynistic and regressive. The interviewer viciously attacked the actor in all kinds of gross and unprofessional ways, and even went on to ask her if he'd "become morally corrupt" by talking to her. Leone however breezed through the interview like a total boss.

On being asked for her response to CPI leader Atul Anjan blaming her for corrupting the Indian morality and the youth, she befittingly said, "You're thinking about me all day, enough to put me in your speeches. I'm waiting for the day when Obama makes a speech about me."

Sania Mirza

One the topmost tennis players in the world, Sania Mirza has always harboured the tenacity to politely shut those asking sexist questions. She has always been vocal about women's rights and equality. 

During an interview earlier this year, Mirza was asked if she had plans to "settle down".

She responded by saying, "You sound disappointed that I’m not choosing motherhood over being number one in the world at this point of time. But I’ll answer your question anyway, that’s the question I face all the time as a woman, that all women have to face — the first is marriage and then it’s motherhood. Unfortunately, that’s when we’re settled, and no matter how many Wimbledons we win or number ones in the world we become, we don’t become settled. But eventually it will happen, not right now. And when it does happen I’ll be the first one to tell everybody when I plan to do that."

Karishma Walia

Karishma became social media’s heroine when she rejected a marriage proposal from a man after the told her that he didn’t want her dog to continue staying with her after marriage.

The Bengaluru girl working in Gurgaon, would rather give up a "rishta" than her beloved pet, Lucy.

While her suitor suggested her love for her dog to be a "temporary phase" and that there are more important matters in life, she replied, "Having a dog is definitely not a temporary phase. I can't abandon my dog for Anyone."

Haritha Rekha

A law college student in Ernakulam, Haritha Rekha was publicly shamed for wearing jeans by an elderly woman who said it was "against the Malayali culture". The woman humiliated her in a public place and even told her that "girls like me should be taken to the police station". 

So Haritha took the woman to a police station where the latter apologised to her.