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Who Run The World? 4 Indians Among Forbes’ 100 Most Powerful Women

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By Kanika Katyal:

Forbes brought out its 12th annual list of the 100 most powerful women that features extraordinary entrepreneurs, visionary CEOs, politicians, celebrity role models, billionaire activists and pioneer philanthropists who are “transforming the world” and have been “ranked by dollars, media presence and impact“.

forbes 100 most powerful women
Clockwise from top left: Arundhati Bhattacharya, Shobhana Bhartia, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Chanda Kochhar

The top 10 in the list include German Vice Chancellor Angela Merkel (1), US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (2), philanthropist Melinda Gates (3), GM CEO Mary Barra (5), Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff (7), Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg (8), YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki (9) and US First Lady Michelle Obama (10).

SBI Chief Arundhati Bhattacharya has been ranked 30th, followed by ICICI Bank Head Chanda Kochhar at the 35th spot, Biocon founder Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw (85th). The newcomer on the list Shobhana Bhartia, HT Media Chair, is on the 93rd spot.

The SBI Chair-Managing director was ranked 36th last year and moved up six spots. Kochhar also moved up eight notches in the rankings, from the 43rd spot last year. Mazumdar-Shaw moved up from the 92nd spot.

59-year-old Bhattacharya, Chair-Managing director of State Bank of India, was named the first female (and youngest) chair at SBI in 2013. Forbes reported that she oversees 220,000 staff members in 16,000 branches and services 225 million customers at the country’s largest lender (assets $400 billion) with offices spread over 36 countries.

Recognizing the multiple roles of working women, Bhattacharya pioneered a two-year sabbatical policy for female employees taking maternity leave or to give extended care to family,” says Forbes.

On 53-year-old Chanda Kochhar, Forbes says, “As the managing director and CEO of India’s ICICI Bank, Chanda Kochhar oversees nearly $125 billion in assets and recently announced a 14% increase in profits over last year. She has been credited with leading a remarkable transformation at India’s largest private sector bank, which experienced major setbacks after the 2008 financial crisis.

Forbes notes that Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw founded Biocon in 1978, as a small industrial-enzymes company. Now Biocon is India’s largest publicly traded biopharmaceutical company, which had $460 billion in revenue last year and distributes its products in 85 countries around the world.

Shobhana Bhartia, who chairs HT Media, publisher of English daily Hindustan Times, a Hindi newspaper by the same name, and business paper Mint, has been hailed as a “media baroness” by Forbes.

Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo CEO, and Cisco Chief Technology and Strategy Officer Padmasree Warrior, who also made to the list are women of Indian origin.

Examined for years under the façade of conformity and image-driven superficiality, over the last decade, the power of an individuated Indian woman has become a force to reckon with. The presence of Indian women on the list, suggest not so much control as strength. All the women mentioned in the list serve as examples of collective growth and building, not only in their own respective quarters, but also with the growth of the nation as a whole. They do not endorse the control and command model of administration. Proudly representing Indian women on a global platform, they stand as world leaders imparting strength to others to stand on their own. With their success stories, they inspire others to chart out their own destinies built upon merit and persistence. More power to us!

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  1. B

    For countless women, being a homemaker and motherhood is more prestigious than any award or recognition work outside the home brings. However, feminists are calling for more women to work outside the home, even if it comes at the expense of children, who are being left to grow in the care of nannies, day care centres, domestic help, in-laws, and babysitters. For a woman today, her status and career comes first, family later. Women are makers of families, but feminists want to break families, which is why they spew venom at the very thought of a woman being in the comfort and security of her home, and they lead women to believe, through false theories and notions, that they will be happier working outside the home.

    It is a woman’s natural inclination to want love and protection. However, feminists don’t want women to follow their natural instincts because that would mean peace and harmony would prevail, which is detrimental for the feminist cause. Feminists want to divide and rule. They want to create a war between the sexes so that they can get attention and funding. In the early 1960s, it was the Rockefellers who funded feminism to send women in the workforce and earn tax dollars, today feminists are funded by governments, feminist activists, and various pro-feminist groups to keep their propaganda alive.

    Women today are being sent in the army, work as firefighters, and in the police, but they are inapt when it comes to physical strength and stamina. Not only do they oppress their children by leaving them with in-laws, day care centers, babysitters, and domestic help, they also pose a danger to the people they are supposed to serve, as they cannot do a task with the same efficiency as men.

    Feminism was funded by the Rockefellers in the early 1960s to send women in the workforce, so that the other half of the population could be taxed; it was a gimmick to control society and prey on wage earners. The entire base of feminism was founded on the basis of creating an imaginary world of inequality and patriarchy, where the bosses in control pitted men and women against each other, or more precisely, women against men, sat back, relaxed, and watched as their heinous game unfolded. The net result with women in the workforce was a generation of neglected children, havoc in families, and an increase in divorce rates – all the while mockery was made of the sacred institution of marriage while those in control collected their dollars.

    It was necessary that a negative image of men was created by the media, as it furthered the agenda of feminists, because men-hating was a necessary part of the entire scheme of feminism to control and dominate. In a short span of 50 years, families have been destroyed, children have grown up with single parents, women have been targeted with an intense hatred of men, as love means marriage with a man, and that is detrimental for what feminism stands for. The idea of an arranged marriage is cringed upon, love marriages take the limelight, and with that comes the need for multiple transient sexual relationships, all the while the goal of feminists is propelled towards destruction of family life. The mass indoctrination has come with a huge cost, in which both men and women have suffered. While feminism talks about the liberation of women, it does the exact opposite.

    1. Blam

      Holy crap dude shut up.

  2. Monistaf

    I am happy to read this article and it is more proof that the system is open to anyone, man or woman, who has the resolve and the skills to make it. They didn’t need special reservations, quotas, privileged treatment or anything else to get them there, they are not oppressed, they are taken seriously, rewarded for their hard work, negotiated their own salaries and made it to the top on their own merits. When will we ever realize that equality under the law never has, and will never be a guarantee for equality of outcome. What we need to ensure is that the system is open and there is no discrimination so everyone has an equal opportunity to pursue their goals. I think, we are already there. Even though we have had women heads of state for 15 years and arguably even for the last 10 years, they are still fighting for 30% quota in the parliament, the government recently enforced a law that at least one board member of every publicly listed company in India has to be female and there are plenty more such ridiculous laws in the works. In Germany, Ms. Merkel says that at least 30% of the board of directors must be women. It is actually insulting to enforce quotas because it sends a message that you cannot make it on your own merit. This article from Forbes, shows that you can.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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