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Saluting 5 super women this Women's day

HuffPost logo HuffPost 8/03/2016 Vyjay Rao

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"The question isn't who is going to let me; it's who is going to stop me." These profound words of Ayn Rand, who gave us such powerful novels like 'The Fountainhead' and 'Atlas Shrugged', epitomizes the spirit of womanhood.
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There is nothing in this world or even in space that is beyond the grit and determination of women. On this International Women's Day it is with great pride as well as awe that I would like to write about 5 adventurous women explorers and their daring exploits who have left their footprints on the sands of time and are a source of inspiration to men and women for posterity.
This post is dedicated to all the women of the world without whom the world itself would have not existed.

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1. Gertrude Bell
Born in 1868, in England, Gertrude Bell blazed a trail of her own, she travelled extensively over Europe, Middle East and Asia at a time when such bravado was unheard of. She was a writer, traveler and an archaeologist who was fluent in the Arabic and Persian languages. She shared her travel experiences with people back in Britain through her prolific writings and correspondence. She was a colleague and contemporary of T.E.Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia. Gertrude's contribution to the emergence of the modern Iraqi state and the National Museum of Iraq is well known and acknowledged. A biopic based on her life, starring Nicole Kidman has been released last year.
You can watch the official trailer here.

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2. Nellie BlyNellie Bly's life is the stuff that movies are made of, full of adventure, fearlessness and grit. She was an American journalist, born in 1864 as Elizabeth Cochrane Seaman but famously known by her pen name of Nellie Bly. She rose to fame with her exposé of the deplorable and brutal conditions in a women's mental asylum. Pioneering what we now call as investigative journalism, Nellie went undercover and entered the asylum as a mentally ill patient and spent ten harrowing days there and documented here findings and experiences in a report which was later published as a book titled; Ten days in a Mad-House
Not the one to sit still, in 1889 Nellie, inspired by the book 'Around the World in Eighty days', by Jules Vernes, set sail from New York on the Augusta Victoria on a journey that would cover 24,899 miles! She travelled through England, France, Sri Lanka then known as Ceylon, Singapore, Hong Kong and China. 72 days later she was back in New York after circumnavigating the globe! A world record at that time.
One can only say, What a woman!

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3. Osa Johnson
Today there is no dearth of traveling couples who travel together, document their experiences and share with others through their blogs and other social media, and that includes yours truly!
But just imagine a couple travelling the globe together and sharing their experiences in the early part of the 20th century!
That is exactly what Osa, born Osa Helen Leighty in 1894 did along with her husband, travel photographer, Martin Johnson.
The American couple dared to go where no man had, to faraway lands , and they came back with incredible experiences, photographs and documentaries. One can gauge the intensity of the daring adventures that she was part of through the titles of some of the documentaries they released which include, "Among the Cannibals of the South Pacific", "Headhunters of the South Seas", "Jungle Adventures", etc..
Osa Johnson has etched her incredible life in print through an autobiography titled, "I Married Adventure".
Today, there is a museum known as Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum in Chanute, Kansas.
The Walt Disney Company was the first to license Johnson films from the museum for its various projects.

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4. Junko Tabei
It was the summer month of May in the year 1975. A group of women calling themselves JWEE(Japanese Women's Everest Expedition) were camping at 6,300 metres, when an avalanche hit them. The camp was devastated and the women buried in the snow. Junko Tabei was one of them, she was unconscious under the snow for six minutes till she was frantically dug out by her life saver Sherpa guide.
Twelve days later on the 16th of May, 1975, Junko Tabei became the first woman to ever set foot on Mount Everest, the world's highest peak.
This Himalayan achievement of Junko Tabei was not easy, she and her fellow expedetioners fought against surmounting odds including shortage of funds. To save money they used recycled car sheets to sew water proof pouches and outer-gloves, they bought goose feather from China to make their own sleeping bags.
Junko Tabei's feet have conquered Mt. Fuji in Japan as well as the Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps.
Not one to rest on her laurels this indomitable woman climbed the Puncak Jaya in Indonesia on 28, June, 1992 to become the first woman in history to complete the Seven Summits which means she has climbed the highest mountain peaks of each of the seven continents!
Today 76 year old Junko Tabei is the Director of Himalayan Adventure Trust of Japan and she has a dream, a dream to climb the highest mountain peak in every country!

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5. Arunima Sinha
The train sped along on its way, oblivious to what was happening in one of its compartments. A young sportswoman who was on her way to Delhi from Lucknow to write an entrance exam for a job in the CISF, was valiantly battling a gang of thieves who were trying to snatch her gold chain and bag. Suddenly she felt a powerful shove and the air whizzed past her, she had been thrown out of the running train! She landed on a parallel track and lay motionless and still, suddenly she realized with horror that a train was rushing towards her, with a superhuman effort she tried to fling her body away from the path of the approaching monster, but the train ran over her leg and thankfully sweet oblivion took over.
When she came to, she was on a hospital bed and had lost one of her legs which had to be amputated.
Still under medical treatment, this brave woman thought of the unthinkable, she resolved that one day she would climb Mount Everest!
On 21, May, 2013, barely two years after the horrendous train incident, this brave woman set foot on Mount Everest.
The first female amputee to do so!!
Meet Arunima Sinha, the brave-heart from India.
Arunima's aim is to climb the highest peak of all the continents. She already has Mount Everest, Kilimanjaro, Elbrus, Kosciuszko and Aconcagua under her belt.
This brave woman is a living inspiration to millions of men and women, her book "Born Again on The Mountain" was launched by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014. She was also awarded Padma Shri, a civilian award by the Indian Republic.
These real stories of real women who have blazed ahead in quest of their goals and pushed aside all barriers and obstacles with a will and power that borders on the superhuman, are indeed a constant source of inspiration to all.
Who are the Super Women who have inspired you?
Who is that one daring woman whose life shines like a beacon in front of you? Let us know in the comments.
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In pics: Indian women for the years

November 6, 1945:  Women volunteers carrying flags are parading through the streets of Madras, demonstrating for home rule in India. Indian women over the years

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