This week has been a big win for Indian women around the world. From leading a successful space program to running the biggest financial organisation in the world, these women have worked hard to achieve their goals and have gotten to what they deserve. Here’s a list of all the women who are making news this week, and a special cheer for each one of them.
Chandrayaan-2, India’s second lunar exploration mission that is set to off from Indian Space Research Organisation, will be recorded in history as the first space mission to be headed by a woman in India. Muthayya Vanitha led the mission as a project director.
She has also been the deputy project director for data systems for the remote sensing satellites Cartosat-1, Oceansat-2, and Megha-Tropiques satellites. She has won the best woman scientist award in the year 2006 and was among the top 10 scientists to watch out for this year by Nature, an international journal of science.
Vanitha was reluctant to take up the role for a mission that has such national ramifications and needed quite a bit of persuasion to take up the post. Dr M Annadurai, who was project director of Chandrayaan-1, was instrumental in persuading her to accept the position.
“Vanitha is an expert in data handling. She was comfortable in her digital/ hardware section and was hesitant to move to a project director role. This role not only involves nearly 18 hours of work a day at its peak, which means many sacrifices but is also in the national limelight bringing heavy responsibility of its own,” said Annadurai.
Praising Vanitha, he added that she has excellent problem-solving skills and team management capabilities that he believed would be essential for this vital project.
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Known as one of the ‘Rocket Women’ of India, Ritu Karidhal led Chandrayaan-2 as the mission director. Besides that, she has been associated with the Managalyaan or the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) of 2013. As the Deputy Operations Director of MOM, she conceptualised and ensured the execution of the spacecraft’s onward autonomy system.
She has been the recipient of numerous awards that include Young Scientist Award, ISRO Team Award for MOM and Women Achievers in Aerospace by Society of Indian Aerospace Technologies and Industries.
Karidhal graduated with a Master’s of Science in Physics from the University of Lucknow and earned her Master’s of Technology in Aerospace Engineering from Indian Institute of Science (IIS). She started her career as an aerospace engineer at ISRO in 1997.
She knew what she wanted to do in her life since she was a child. She would look up to the sky from her Lucknow house to study the stars and the moon. She was sure that she wanted to explore space science.
In a TED Talk on ‘How India went to Mars’, Karidhal recalls that the biggest challenge was the 18-month timeframe to complete the work for the mission. With limited time in hand, she consulted with engineers and created the software in 10-months.
“This was the first Indian satellite to have full-scale, on-board autonomy, which had the capability to rectify its own problems. And most importantly, female scientists worked shoulder to shoulder along with male scientists to make this mission a success,” she said in her TED Talk.
The World Bank Group announced the appointment of Anshula Kant as their new Managing Director and Chief Financial Officer. She is the World Bank’s first woman CFO.
Kant is from Jamshedpur, India and has graduated from Lady Shri Ram College with an honours degree in Economics. She also holds a Master’s degree in Economics from the Delhi School of Economics.
“I am very pleased to appoint Anshula Kant as World Bank Group Managing Director and CFO. Anshula brings more than 35 years of expertise in finance, banking, and innovative use of technology through her work as CFO of the State Bank of India,” said David Malpass, President of the World Bank, as he announced Kants’ recruitment.
“She’s excelled at a diverse array of leadership challenges including risk, treasury, funding, regulatory compliance, and operations. I look forward to welcoming her to our management team as we work to increase our effectiveness in supporting good development outcomes,” he further added.
Her experience as SBI’s CFO adds massive value to her current role as CFO of the World Bank. As Managing Director and Chief Financial Officer, Kant will be responsible for financial and risk management of the World Bank Group and will be working alongside the president in organising financial resources for the World Bank.
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Indian women have also achieved a great deal in sports this week. Adding to the list is Dutee Chand who won gold for 100m and finished fifth in 200m at the Women’s World University Games. Saikom Mirabai Chanu, Vinesh Phogat, Navjeet Dhillon, Divya Kakran and Hima Das also won gold in their respective sports at the tournament. Complementing these athletes is the Indian women’s football team. Through their remarkable performance in the past few months, the team has won 12 out of 18 matches and has jumped up six places to 57th in the latest FIFA world ranking.