Empowering Voices: ‘Women Who Win’ Unveils Inspirational Book Chronicling Diverse Journeys

In the midst of the 2020 pandemic, three women encountered a creative spark when they felt uninspired. Their response was to establish a platform aimed at uniting diverse women to foster inspiration and connection. This initiative, dubbed “Women Who Win,” commenced by inviting women worldwide to share their narratives, spanning business triumphs, personal development, conquered challenges, and surpassed obstacles.

In commemoration of their three-year milestone, the collective has unveiled its inaugural book. This publication chronicles a distinctive array of stories, with a central objective of empowering and resonating with readers on every page.

The book encompasses around 100 women, each voice compelling and every journey prompting profound contemplation in its own right. It endeavors to strike a chord with individuals from all backgrounds, featuring anecdotes from a broad spectrum of professionals including entrepreneurs, technologists, artists, community advocates, senior executives, young professionals, nonprofit leaders, healthcare providers, and change-makers of various stripes.

Highlighted personalities within the book encompass a diverse range, including Reshma Kewalramani, CEO of Vertex Pharmaceuticals; Swaroop Sampat, esteemed actress and educator; Jaishree Deshpande, philanthropist and co-founder of the Deshpande Foundation; Ami Ambani, businesswoman and avid marathoner; Chitra Banerjee, renowned Author; Annette Phillips, musician and singer from the Berklee India Ensemble; Gouri Banerjee, co-founder of Saheli Boston; Dr. Kavita Navani of Eclinical Works; Rosemarie Day, president of Day Health Strategies; Kay Khan, State Representative of Massachusetts; and Kathleen Walsh, president of YMCA Metro North, among others.

Shaleen Sheth, one of the co-founders of Women Who Win, expressed enthusiasm about the book’s inclusive representation, stating, “What excites me most is that the book includes the paths of women, coming from all different cultures and backgrounds, who are at the top of their field, and it highlights not only their successes but also the obstacles they faced along the way such as a health or family issue, or a career setback.” Sheth emphasized the importance of diverse narratives in guiding individuals through challenges and inspiring them to pursue ambitious dreams.

Dr. Deepa Jhaveri, another co-founder, echoed Sheth’s sentiments, remarking, “I love that this book encapsulates life – how some aspect of every life’s story is relatable to everyone.” She expressed hope that the stories would ignite readers’ aspirations and empower them to enact positive changes in their lives, whether in health, education, career, or personal growth.

Dr. Manju Sheth, MD, the third founder, highlighted the impact of the book’s focus on women’s health stories. Reflecting on the Wednesday Wellness series, Dr. Sheth emphasized the importance of preventative medicine and noted the positive response from readers, particularly in scheduling health screenings after reading firsthand accounts. She expressed satisfaction in potentially influencing individuals to prioritize their health.

The book, over a year in the making, has already sparked conversations and generated excitement both locally in New England and globally. Notable figures such as activist and actress Shabani Azmi have contributed to the book, with testimonials from esteemed individuals including philanthropist Desh Deshpande, Leader Bank founder and CEO Sushil Tuli, and Amruta Fadnavis, a banker, actress, singer, and social activist. The founders expressed gratitude to the women who entrusted them with their stories and anticipated celebrating with the community at launch events in Boston, New York, and India.

In a statement, the Women Who Win founders expressed their aspiration to make history by amplifying the voices of women and minorities, with the book serving as the first installment of a trilogy. They conveyed appreciation for the opportunity to spotlight the journeys of remarkable women and affirmed their commitment to this ongoing mission of empowerment and inclusion.

Empowering Dreams: Inside India’s Rural Wrestling School Shaping Future Olympians

Just a few hours away from the bustling streets of New Delhi, Anushree Fadnavis, a photojournalist with Reuters, delved into the world of young female wrestlers undergoing training in the rustic countryside of Sisai, a village nestled in the Indian state of Haryana.

Her lens captured the aspirations of these girls as they aimed to emulate the success of trailblazers like Sakshi Malik, who etched her name in history books as the first Indian woman wrestler to clinch an Olympic medal in 2016.

Traditionally a male-dominated sport in India, wrestling has witnessed a surge in interest among female athletes in recent times, with institutions like the Altius school playing a pivotal role in nurturing this emerging talent.

“I wanted to capture their hopes, dreams, ambitions, and their drive to succeed,” expressed Fadnavis, reflecting on her motivation behind the project.

Established in 2009 by Usha Sharma, India’s pioneering female wrestling coach, along with her husband, Sanjay Sihag, the Altius school stands as a beacon of empowerment, driven by Sharma’s firsthand experiences of navigating the constraints of a patriarchal society.

“In a village, an animal has more value to it than a woman, as an animal gives milk and there is a cost attached to it,” Sharma lamented, shedding light on the prevailing gender dynamics in rural settings.

Fadnavis spent two immersive days at the school, witnessing firsthand the camaraderie among the students as they supported each other in their modest training facilities.

“What surprised me was the grit and determination of the girls to train themselves for a sport that requires a lot of physical strength,” she remarked, noting the shifting societal attitudes reflected in parents’ willingness to send their daughters to a residential school far from home.

Except for Sundays, the students adhere to a rigorous schedule, commencing their day at 4 a.m. with fitness routines and training sessions, punctuated by academic lessons and self-prepared meals—a routine embraced by all, fostering independence and self-reliance.

“Women in the villages in Haryana have very little to no agency in their lives and hence are very dependent on their families and especially men in their lives,” Fadnavis observed, underscoring the transformative impact of the school on its students.

The stories of alumni like Sonu Kaliraman, who transitioned from a farm laborer to an international wrestler under the tutelage of Altius, serve as testament to the profound influence of female mentors in providing a nurturing environment for aspiring athletes.

“Most of them told me that having a woman coach really helps them, as they can be themselves and don’t have to overexplain things to anyone,” Fadnavis relayed, highlighting the significance of representation and mentorship.

A poignant moment during Kaliraman’s home visit, where her mother expressed pride in her achievements, resonated deeply with Fadnavis, evoking memories of her own journey from a career in software engineering to photography, inspired by a close friend.

“It felt great to see the girls have so many different opportunities and someone who could guide them on the right path,” she remarked, emphasizing the role of belief and encouragement in fostering success.

While not all students may ascend to podiums or lucrative contracts, their tenure at Altius equips them with a support network, lifelong friendships, and invaluable lessons for their journey ahead.

“When I opened the academy and we started getting medals, it felt nice to know that the same girls who used to graze cows and buffaloes are now being favored by the men in the family,” Sharma reflected, encapsulating the transformative impact of the school in reshaping societal perceptions and fostering empowerment among its students.