Just like Rani Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi, the Begum of Awadh, who took control of Lucknow, fought the British during the 1857 rebellion?

On May 10, 1857, the “sepoys” of Meerut rebelled against the British East India Company. Very soon, others joined them under the banner of Bahadur Shah II, the Mughal emperor, to whom the rebels gave the title Shahenshah-e-Hind. The rebellion became a full-fledged uprising against the British, with kings, nobles, landlords, peasants, tribals, and ordinary people fighting together. Yet historians tend to ignore, and to completely forget, the role of the women who came out of their homes and joined the men in fighting the Company Bahadur.

She crowned her 11-year-old son Birjis Qadar the ruler of Awadh, under Mughal suzerainty, on June 5, 1857, after a spectacular victory by the rebel forces in the Battle of Chinhat. The British were forced to take refuge in the Lucknow Residency, a series of events that became famous as the Siege of Lucknow, while her diktat ran in Awadh as regent of Birjis Qadar.

The longest and fiercest battles of the First War of Independence were fought in Lucknow. The begum ruled for 10 months as regent and had the biggest army of any of the rebel leaders that fought the British in 1857.


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Born in Kerala, who became the first woman Supreme Court judge in 1989?

Born to Annaveetil Meera Sahib and Khadeeja Bibi on April 30, 1927, at Pathananthitta in the erstwhile state of Travancore (now Kerala), Fathima studied law at Trivandrum’s Law College. Despite being only one of the five women students in her class in the first year (a number that dropped to three by the second year), the hardworking student was already on her way to making history.

In 1950, Fathima became the first woman to top the Bar Council of India’s exam. The same year in November, she enrolled as an advocate and started her career in Kerala’s lower judiciary, much to the displeasure of many people who raised their eyebrows at a headscarfed woman in the Kollam court.

In October 1989, six months after retiring from the Kerala High Court, Fathima was appointed as a Supreme Court judge in October 1989. For India, it was a watershed moment that paved the way for women in India to occupy positions in the higher judiciary.


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Who became the first woman governor (of what is now Uttar Pradesh) of Independent India?

Indian freedom fighter Sarojini Naidu became the first female Governor of a state in independent India when she was appointed as Governor of United Provinces, now Uttar Pradesh, in 1947. Also known as the 'Nightingale of India', Naidu also served as the first Indian woman President of the Indian National Congress. She was born on February 13, 1879.

Her collection of poems entitled "The Feather of The Dawn" was later edited and published after her death in 1961 by her daughter Padamaja.

Born as Sarojini Chattopadhyaya on February 13, 1879 in Hyderabad she received her higher education from King's College London and later at Girton College, Cambridge.

She married Govindarajulu Naidu, a doctor by profession, when she was 19 and the couple had five children.

Sarojini Naidu died of a heart attack on March 2, 1949.


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Who became the first woman school teacher in India?

Born on January 3, 1831, in a family of farmers in Naigaon village in Satara district, Maharashtra, Savitribai Phule was the eldest daughter of Lakshmi and Khandoji Neveshe Patil. At the age of 9, she was married to 13-year-old Jyotirao Phule. Her husband was one of the greatest social reformers of Maharashtra. In fact, it was Jyotirao who taught Savitribai to read and write. She was passionate about teaching and soon enrolled herself in a teachers’ training institution in Ahmednagar. She also received another teacher’s training course in Pune.

She started teaching girls in Maharwada in Pune with Sagunabai, a revolutionary feminist and Jyotirao’s mentor. Soon, Savitribai, Jyotirao and Sagunabai started their school at Bhide Wada. The curriculum of the school was based on western education and included mathematics, science and social studies.

With her close friend and colleague Fatima Begum Sheikh, Savitribai also started teaching women and children from downtrodden castes including Mang and Mahar who were considered untouchables. Savitribai and Jyotirao opened 18 schools for children of different castes.

A staunch feminist, Savitribai, in 1852, started Mahila Seva Mandal to educate women about their rights, dignity and social issues.


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Who became the first Indian woman to go to Antarctica?

Meher Moos became the first Indian woman to go to Antarctica.

Born and brought up in Maharashtra, Meher did her schooling from St. Joseph’s Convent in Panchgani. After that, she completed her BA (Hons.) from Sophia College, followed by LLB from the Government Law College in Bombay (now Mumbai). In 1965, at the young age of 21, she joined Air India as an air hostess.

The list of unusual and exotic places Meher has been to in the world is staggeringly long: most of the mountain chains of the world, Andes, Sierra Nevada, the Rockies, the Alps, Atlas, Himalayas; the remotest islands of Indonesia, Melanesia and Polynesia; across all oceans and several rivers, the Amazon, Congo, Zambesi, Mississippi, Yangtse, Ganges; to all the Gulf countries and the Middle East; across the International Dateline in Tonga; and, up to the shores of Easter Island.

Somehow, Meher managed to get this done but the plane that was meant to take her to Madagascar (where the expedition would begin) developed a hydraulic leak. She had to change her plans yet again and eventually caught up with the ship at Cape Town to begin a journey she would never forget.

And, thus, Meher Moos became the first Indian woman to go to Antarctica.


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