At 73, she is possibly the oldest woman exponent of Kalaripayattu, the ancient martial arts from Kerala. Now she is passing down her 68 years of expertise to a new generation – for free.
World's Oldest Female Yoga TeacherThis 98-year-old yoga master continues to practice yoga, teaching students and performing poses like a woman a quarter her age.
India's First Professional Female SurferFor most of her life she thought she'd have to go to California to surf. When she discovered she could surf along India's own coast, she co-founded the Shaka Surf Club to let everyone else know that too.
The Woman Who Challenged the Oppressive Breast TaxIn the 19th century, one woman's protest against an oppressive tax led to its end, as well as her own.
Mother of TreesThimmakka and her husband were unable to have children, so they decided to plant trees--hundreds of them, lining a kilometers-long stretch of road between their village and the neighboring one.
Grandmother of the JungleThis 75-year-old can prepare 500 herbal medicines from memory - and she just won India's 4th-highest civilian honor, the Padma Shri Award!
South India's First Female Taxi DriverSelvi escaped an abusive marriage she was forced into age 14. She went on to become South India's first female taxi driver, and an advocate to prevent other young girls from being forced to marry.
The Woman Who Discovered India's First HIV CasesIn 1985, India widely considered AIDS to be a disease of Western debauchery which would not infect their country. Until Nirmala, as part of her dissertation, took blood samples that tested positive for HIV.
3-year-old champion archer
Dolly Shivani Cherukuri has just set a new national archery record in India -- and what's most incredible is that this Mighty Girl is turning three years old next week! At an archery trial this week, Dolly fired over 70 arrows and scored a total of 388 points, making her the youngest Indian to score more than 200 points at a trial according to the Indian Book of Records. The young archer from Andhra Pradesh comes from a family of archers. Her father, Cherukuri Satyanarayana, told AFP that "you can't put too much pressure on children" but explained that she has been introduced to archery from a very young age: "When we came to know that the baby was on her way we decided to mold her as an archer." He had special arrows made for the toddler out of carbon when she was first learning so they would be light enough for her to handle. During the trial, Dolly shot 36 arrows from 15 feet (5m) and then 36 more from 21 feet (7m). Gunjan Abrol of the Archery Association of India stated, "We are all very proud of her. We are very impressed." And, of course, the young Mighty Girl and her family were thrilled at the record-breaking feat, which is also being submitted to the Guinness Book of World Records. As her father declared: "I can't express in words how happy my family is."
The Grandmother Who Built DamsThis nonagenerian entrepreneur helps out villages across Rajasthan, India, by building dams.
The Sword-Fighting GrannyMeenakshi has been practicing kalaripayattu for decades, and now teaches it to a younger generation -- including increasing numbers of girls.
Born without arms or legs, this artist learned to write, sew, and paint with her mouth - and came to work for kings and queens.
50 years before women got the federal right to vote, Esther Morris became America's first female justice of the peace. A contemporary newspaper called her “the terror of all rogues” and said she offered “infinite delight to all lovers of peace and virtue."
Although her tribe was destroyed and she was forced into an unwanted marriage, this indomitable woman came to run the world's largest empire - with a woman as her companion.
This Mongol stood up to the most fearsome man in the world and in so doing, prevented a genocide.
When Singaporean guerrillas tried overthrowing British rule, they turned to this gangster to run their communications. The cat-and-mouse game in which she was caught by a female police officer is riveting stuff.
New York's first licensed female cabbie didn't let racism, sexism, or a speech impediment slow her down.
Without training, this 13-year-old shattered world records for running in 1967 -- unfortunately, it happened shortly after Kathrine Switzer's headline-making Boston marathon entry, and Mancuso's feat was all but forgotten.
When the true king of the Scots came to reclaim the throne, this spirited woman went up against her husband to back her chosen sovereign.
Tammie Jo Shults
One of the US Navy's first female fighter pilots took a job with a commercial airline - and then saved the day when an engine exploded mid-flight.
Her apartment, which she dubbed Dream Haven, was a “who’s-who of the Harlem Renaissance: artists, poets, writers, songwriters, intellectuals, and activists” - everyone from Zora Neale Hurston to Langston Hughes to W.E.B. Du Bois.
When her deadbeat brothers demanded the impossible, this South African princess carried through, and slayed a dragon.
Susan la Flesche Picotte
The first Native American medical doctor endured back-breaking labor, years spent alone, and institutional racism to better the lives of her people.
Cut Nyak Dhien
When her (second) rebel husband was killed, this heroine of Indonesian revolution took over the fight against the Dutch.
To save an oncoming passenger train, this 15-year-old girl climbed across a collapsing bridge, with nothing but flashes of lightning to keep her from falling to her death in the flooding river below -- a river that had already killed her father.
The poster child for childhood abuse, nobody should ever make a kids' movie about her.