Their passion, versatility and excellent skills have made these women leave an iconic magic in our society. Moreover, the changes they have wrought in are employed by every generation, even to this day. Surely during their era, it would have taken a lot of valiance to be the game-changers and inspire many along the way. We take a look on such exemplary women from Odisha who have uplifted the state’s glory while also contributing for our betterment, at large.
1) Sailabala Das
The first Odia woman to go to England for higher studies, Sailabala was a social worker & a politician in an array. Born in 1875, this iconoclast was always ready to dissent colonialism & help the oppressed. She became the first Honorary Magistrate of India & was instrumental in creating the first women’s college in Odisha. First in many aspects, she became the first woman inspector of prison cells in Patna, the first lady to join the management committee of Prince of Wales Medical College and even became the Syndicate member of Patna University. Sailabala will forever be remembered for her amazing contributions to the society!
2) Pratibha Ray
Creating waves all over Odisha as well as India, this eminent writer & Padma Shri winner is the first woman to win the Moortidevi Award for her literary works. Apart from being an archetype academician, Pratibha has touched various horizons of life too, like being a school teacher to guiding doctoral research. Winner of the prestigious Jnanpitha Award as well, she has also substantially contributed in fighting against social injustice. Besides, Dr. Ray has represented India in global literary fests and conferences. Associated with Indian Council of Cultural Relations, National Book Trust and many more, Pratibha is truly a lady to marvel at!
3) Tulasi Munda
Even after being born into a poor tribal family, Tulasi’s indomitable spirit did not stop her from eradicating acute poverty and illiteracy. At a time when educating girls was considered preposterous, she pulled it off with élan and made people realize that education can be their weapon for fighting social evils. She started her journey of teaching and learning from a small veranda, and later established Adivasi Vikas Samiti in Serenda. Moreover Tulasi has the credit of educating 20000 people and 16 outreach education centres as well. This Padma Shri awardee even has a biopic titled Tulasi Apa, directed by Amiya Patnaik, which encapsulates Tulasi’s struggles and achievements!
4) Nandini Satpathy
Another exemplary lady, Nandini Sathpathy was the first woman Chief Minister of Odisha. Such was her popularity that she incessantly won all elections over a successive period of 55 years. Landing on a seat of Rajya Sabha as an MP, she has worked in tandem with Smt Indira Gandhi & was assigned one of the coveted portfolios, the Information and Broadcasting. Nandini has also authored Uttara Purusha besides translating works of various authors including Lajja by Taslima Nasreen & Rasidi Ticket by Amrita Pritam. Sailing successfully though the dark phases of life, Nandini has emerged victorious by proving her mettle as a woman and also as an individual!
5) Ramadevi Chowdhury
Born in Cuttack on 3rd December 1899, Ramadevi was considered a versatile genius. A daughter niece of Utkal Gaurab Madhusudan Das, Ramadevi played a pivotal role during the freedom struggle of India & she joined the Indian National Congress as well. Post-Independence, she involved herself in Bhoodan & Gramdan movements, helped set up the Utkal Khadi Mandal & even established a Teachers’ Training Centre & Balwadi at Ramchandrapur. Also in 1950, Ramadevi set up a Tribal Welfare Centre at Dumburugeda. A primary school, Shishu Vihar and a cancer hospital was also set up by her in Cuttack.
These women truly are rich sources of inspiration for everyone out there to speak up, stand against all odds and to transform into more powerful individuals!