Inspirational South Asian Women
When I was a little girl, I adored barbie dolls with blonde hair and blue eyes, but I also wondered why I didn’t look like them. As I grew older, I was inspired by women like Marie Curie, Oprah Winfrey, and Hillary Clinton. I was awed by their passion, and how powerful they were, but I still couldn’t see myself in them. Soon after, I began to learn about women who were both wildly successful and shared my cultural background.
Malala seems to have been all over the news lately, and for good reason! She was recently awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for her exemplary work as a female education activist, and she’s, incidentally, the youngest ever recipient of the award. Malala’s journey started when she was tragically shot in the head by the Taliban, which resulted in a nearly fatal injury. Thankfully, the young Pakistani activist was able to regain her strength, and spread her message even further: education for everyone, regardless of race, gender, or socioeconomic standing.
Indra Nooyi, an Indian businesswoman who is consistently included on ‘World’s Most Powerful Woman’ lists, is currently the CEO of PepsiCo, the second largest food/beverage company in the world. Nooyi became CEO of the company in 2006, and since then the company’s annual revenue has increased by 72%. Nooyi grew up in Tamil Nadu, India, and then moved to the U.S. to study for her Master’s degree from Yale School of Management in 1978. In 2010, Fortune named her the #1 woman in business, and 6th most powerful woman in the world!
The first time I’d ever seen a woman that looked like me on television, was when I watched Mindy Kaling on NBC’s The Office as Kelly Kapoor. Since then, Mindy has created her own network television show, The Mindy Project, a rom-com about Mindy Lahiri (played by Kaling), an OB/GYN trying to balance both her personal and professional life. Kaling, a first generation Indian American, grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and attended Dartmouth College. She began her career as an intern for Conan O’Brian, and then progressed to appearances in films, for example No Strings Attached. Soon after, Kaling secured her role in The Office, and then launched The Mindy Project in 2012. Mindy is the first Indian American woman to have her own network television show, but she insists on being held to the same standard as her colleagues, and often speaks about not wanting to be known as the “best Indian American woman comedy writer”, because she feels that she can go head to head with the best white, male comedy writers!
Prathusha Yeruva hails from the Great Lake state and is currently a sophomore at Troy Athens High School. She has an interest in biology and journalism, as well as in female empowerment. She founded a She's the First chapter at her high school (an organization that sponsors girls' education in the developing world), and that opportunity has definitely given her a more developed lens on women's issues globally. In addition to writing for Her Culture, she also writes for the women's issues column at She Speaks Media. She challenges herself academically with AP classes, participates in a wide variety of clubs, and values her Indian culture. In her free time, Prathusha drinks an abundance of coffee, listens to indie bands, and uses ampersands & parentheses excessively. She's so excited to be writing for Her Culture!