The superwomen chronicles
A new anthology calls attention to real-life South Asian wonder women
In early 1900s London, within the circles of British aristocracy, hobnobbed a certain Indian princess. The daughter of Maharaja Duleep Singh and god-daughter to Queen Victoria, Princess Sophia Duleep Singh, would use her social stature to fight for women’s right to vote, becoming a pivotal figure in the suffragette movement. Her story had faded into oblivion until now, but it has re-emerged in a special anthology titled, Stories For South Asian Super Girls. The omnibus carries 50 biographies of some remarkable South Asian women who’ve left an indelible mark in history. Without their ambition, impassioned protests, vigour or clout, the world would have been significantly different. Slated to be released this month, the book stands as a testimony to their contribution, but more importantly, it stands to inspire young women.
“All women face challenges, but South Asian women are impacted by different systems of oppression that can often overlap," says London-based Rajvinder Kaur Khaira, the editor of the anthology and the founder of Pink Ladoo Project. The project is a global movement established in 2015 that campaigns to weed out the gender bias inherent in South Asian cultural customs and traditions. So far, the movement has gained momentum in Australia, Canada and the UK. “This anthology is for South Asian girls and their parents to see their own backgrounds and skin tones reflected in leaders and role models," says Khaira.
Of late there has been a conscious effort to empower young girls—from the impactful “Like a Girl" campaign to the illustrated children’s book Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls featuring 100 pioneering women. In a similar vein, Stories For South Asian Super Girls aims to inspire change. The book also features Noor Inayat Khan, a World War I spy who fought against the Nazis; the politically astute Mughal empress Nur Jahan; as well as modern-day icons such as supermodel Neelam Gill and actor Priyanka Chopra.
The book will be available for pre-order on 11 October on Pinkladoo.org.