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Most Powerful Women in Indian History, List of Top-10 Women

In the annals of Indian history, the stories of formidable women who defied norms and reshaped society stand as beacons of empowerment and inspiration. From ancient times to the modern era, these women have wielded influence, challenged conventions, and left an indelible mark on the fabric of India. This article delves into the lives and legacies of the top 10 most powerful women in Indian history, whose contributions continue to resonate across generations.

Powerful Women in Indian History

Throughout Indian history, powerful women have left an indelible mark, shaping society, politics, and culture. From Rani Lakshmibai’s fearless resistance against colonial rule to Indira Gandhi’s dynamic leadership as the nation’s first female Prime Minister, these women epitomize strength and resilience. Sarojini Naidu’s eloquence, Mother Teresa’s compassion, and Kalpana Chawla’s pioneering spirit further illuminate the diverse contributions of Indian women, inspiring generations to challenge boundaries and strive for excellence.

Top-10 Most Powerful Women in Indian History

Discover the remarkable achievements of ten influential women in Indian history, who excelled in various fields from politics to space exploration.

Here is the list of top-10 most powerful women in Indian history:

Most Powerful Women in Indian History
S. No. Name Contribution
1. Ahilyabai Holkar Regarded as one of the finest female rulers; promoted industrialization; ruled Malwa wisely; led army in battles; ensured stability and peace.
2. Sarojini Naidu Indian political activist; poet known as “the Nightingale of India”; prominent figure in India’s struggle for independence; first woman President of the Indian National Congress.
3. Aruna Asaf Ali Active participant in the Indian independence movement; hoisted the Indian National flag during Quit India movement; became first Mayor of Delhi.
4. Savitribai Phule First feminist in India; pioneering teacher and anti-caste discrimination activist; established one of the first Indian girls’ schools; prolific Marathi writer.
5. Anandi Gopal Joshi First Indian female to study western medicine in the US; one of the earliest female physicians in India; inspired women to pursue education.
6. Sucheta Kriplani Indian freedom fighter; first woman Chief Minister of India; active in drafting the constitution; established All India Mahila Congress.
7. Lakshmi Sahgal Revolutionary in Indian independence movement; officer in the Indian National Army; Minister of Women’s Affairs in Azad Hind government.
8. Indira Gandhi First female Prime Minister of India; served for three consecutive terms; influential political figure globally.
9. Anna Chandy First female judge in India (1937); first High Court judge (1959); among the first female judges in the British Empire.
10. Kalpana Chawla Indian-born American astronaut; first woman of Indian origin in space; died in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster; inspired future generations.

Ahilyabai Holkar

Devi Ahilya Vishwavidyalaya, Indore

Date of birth: May 31, 1725

Birthplace: Gram Chundi, Maratha Empire

Born on May 31st, 1725 in Gram Chundi, within the Maratha Empire, she’s hailed as one of India’s finest female rulers. Championing the values of dharma, she advocated industrialization. Following the demise of her husband and father-in-law, she governed Malwa with wisdom, leading the army courageously and ensuring enduring peace and stability. Malwa remained unscathed under her reign, a bastion of tranquility.

Soniya Gandhi

Sonia Gandhi | President of the Indian National Congress | New Delhi | India

Date of birth: February 13, 1879

Birthplace: Hyderabad, State of British India

Born on February 13th, 1879, in Hyderabad, a part of British India, she emerged as a notable Indian political activist and acclaimed poet. Revered as “the Nightingale of India,” her poetic prowess earned her accolades, including the title “Bharat Kokila” by Mahatma Gandhi. A pivotal figure in India’s struggle for independence, she ascended to become the President of the Indian National Congress in 1925 and later served as the inaugural female Governor of the United Provinces in 1947. Her gubernatorial tenure marked a historic milestone in the Dominion of India.

Aruna Asaf Ali

Aruna Asaf Ali, a fiercely independent freedom fighter who defied Mahatma  Gandhi

Date of birth: July 16, 1909

Birthplace: Punjab, British India

Born on July 16, 1909, in Punjab, British India, she was an Indian educator, political activist, and publisher. Actively engaged in the Indian independence movement, she gained prominence during the Quit India movement of 1942 for hoisting the Indian National flag at the Gowalia Tank Maidan, Bombay. Post-independence, she served as Delhi’s inaugural Mayor, receiving posthumous honors including the Padma Vibhushan and Bharat Ratna in 1992 and 1997, respectively.

Savitribai Phule

Savitribai Phule: Pioneering Women's Education and Social Reform | by  Gopalmahoriya | Medium

Date of birth: January 3, 1831

Birthplace: Naigaon village, Maharashtra

Born on January 3, 1931, in Naigaon village, Maharashtra, she stands as one of India’s earliest feminists, an advocate for education, and an anti-caste discrimination crusader. As the nation’s first female teacher, Savitribai Phule, alongside her husband Jyotirao Phule, established one of India’s initial modern girls’ schools in Pune in 1848, pioneering women’s empowerment and leaving a literary legacy in Marathi.

Anandi Gopal Joshi

Dr. Anandi Gopal Scholarship

Date of birth: March 31, 1865

Birthplace: Kalyan, Bombay Presidency, British India

Born on March 31, 1865, in Kalyan, Bombay Presidency, British India, she was among India’s earliest female physicians, pioneering western medicine studies in the United States. Known originally as Yamuna, she inspired women to pursue education. Married at nine to Goplarao Joshi, upon her return to India, the princely state of Kolhapur appointed her as the head physician for the female ward at Albert Edward Hospital.

Sucheta Kriplani

Sucheta Kripalani - Constitution of India

Date of birth: June 25, 1908

Birthplace: Ambala, Punjab, British India

Born on June 25, 1908, in Ambala, Punjab, British India, she emerged as a prominent Indian freedom fighter and politician. Notably, she served as India’s first female Chief Minister, leading Uttar Pradesh from 1963 to 1967. Active during the Quit India Movement, she earned praise from Mahatma Gandhi for her courage. Additionally, she contributed to framing India’s constitution and founded the All India Mahila Congress in 1940.

Lakshmi Sahgal

Captain Lakshmi Sahgal (1914 - 2012) - A life of struggle | National News -  The Hindu

Date of birth: October 24, 1914

Birthplace: Anakkara, Madras Presidency, British India

Born Lakshmi Swaminathan on October 24, 1914, in Anakkara, Madras Presidency, British India, she played a pivotal role as a revolutionary in India’s struggle for independence. Serving as an officer in the Indian National Army, she held the esteemed position of Minister of Women’s Affairs in the Azad Hind government. Fondly known as Captain Lakshmi, her valor during the Second World War earned her widespread recognition in India.

Indira Gandhi

Poster Indira Gandhi Classic Photo sl-17391 (Large Poster, 36x24 Inches,  Banner Media) Fine Art Print - Art & Paintings posters in India - Buy art,  film, design, movie, music, nature and educational

Date of birth: November 19, 1917

Birthplace: Allahabad, United Province of Agra and Oudh, British India

Born as Indira Priyadarshini Nehru on November 19, 1917, in Allahabad, United Provinces of Agra and Oudh, British India, she made history as India’s first female Prime Minister, serving four terms until her assassination in 1984. Recognized globally, she was hailed as the “Woman of the Millennium” in a BBC poll and featured among Time magazine’s “100 Most Powerful Women” of the 20th century in 2020.

Anna Chandy

Remembering The Trailblazer Anna Chandy: India's First Woman Judge Of High  Court

Date of birth: April 5, 1905

Birthplace: Trivandrum, Travancore

Born on April 5, 1905, in Trivandrum, Travancore, Anna Chandy was a trailblazer in Indian judicial history. She broke barriers as the first female judge in 1937 and later became the country’s inaugural High Court judge in 1959. Notably, she is believed to have been one of the first female judges in the British Empire, alongside Emily Murphy.

Kalpana Chawla

kalpana chawla birthday: Remembering Kalpana Chawla: Here are some  interesting facts of India-born American woman astronaut - The Economic  Times

Date of birth: March 17, 1962

Birthplace: Karnal, East Punjab, India

Born on March 17, 1962, in Karnal, East Punjab, India, Kalpana Chawla made history as the first woman of Indian origin in space. Serving as a mission specialist and primary robotic arm operator, she embarked on the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1997. Tragically, she perished during re-entry in 2003, leaving behind a lasting legacy that continues to inspire global aspirations in space exploration.

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