First Woman in India – Awards, Sports & Entertainment

First Women in India
The fourth and final part of the series covering First Ladies of India in the field of Awards & Honors, Sports & Entertainment.

A Comprehensive List of First Indian Women in Various Fields - Part IV

Awards & Honors

  • First Indian Woman to win Nobel Peace Prize – Mother Teresa (1979).
  • First Indian Woman who won Ramon Magsaysay award – Mother Teresa (1962).
  • First Woman to receive Bharat Ratna – Indira Gandhi (1971).
  • First Indian Woman Musician to receive Bharat Ratna – M.S. Subbulakshmi (1998).
  • First Sportswoman to be awarded Padma Shri – Arati Saha (1960).
  • First Indian Actress to win the Padma Shri – Nargis Dutt (1958).
  • First Woman Sportsperson to be decorated with the Padma Vibhushan – MC Mary Kom (25 January 2020).
  • First Indian Woman to win an Oscar award – Bhanu Athaiya (Best Costume Design, Gandhi, 1983).
  • First Indian Woman to win a Grammy Award – Tanvi Shah (“Jai Ho” from Slumdog Millionaire, 2010).
  • First Woman to receive Dadasaheb Phalke award – Devika Rani Roerich (1969).
  • First Woman to receive Ashoka Chakra – Niraja Bhanot (1987).
  • First Indian Woman to get Arjuna Award – Stephie D'Souza (Hockey, 1963).
  • First Woman to receive Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna – Karnam Malleswari (1995).
  • First Indian Woman to become Member of Legion of Honour (France) – Asha Pande (2010, for the pioneering French language in Rajasthan).
  • First Woman to win Norman Borlaug award – Dr. Amrita Patel (1991).
  • First Indian Woman to win both Arjuna & Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna – Kunjarani (Grand Old Lady, Arjuna Award - 1990 & Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna - with Leander Paes in 1996-1997).
  • First Woman Coach to win Dronacharya Award – Sunil Dabas (2012, Kabaddi).
  • First Woman to appear on Postal StampMirabai (October 1, 1952 - stamp for 2 annas).
  • First Indian Woman to win at the Wildlife Photographer of the Year – Aishwarya Sridhar (2020).


  • First Indian Woman to qualify for Olympic Games – Sini Abraham.
  • First Indian woman to reach the semi-finals of an Olympic event – Shiny Abraham.
  • First Indian woman to reach the final of an Olympic event – P.T. Usha (400m hurdles, 1984).
  • First Indian Gymnast to qualify for Olympics – Dipa Karmakar (2016).
  • First Woman to win a Medal in Olympics – Karnam Malleswari.
  • First Woman to win a medal at the Paralympics – Deepa Malik (Rio, 2016).
  • First Indian woman to win a medal in Badminton at Olympic Games – Saina Nehwal (2012).
  • First Indian woman to win an Olympic silver medal – P.V Sindhu (2016).
  • First Indian woman to win two Olympic medals in two consecutive Olympics – P.V Sindhu (2016: Silver &2020: Bronze).
    • Second Indian athlete to win two Olympic medals in Olympic Games –  P.V Sindhu.
  • First Indian woman wrestler to win an Olympic medalSakshi Malik (58Kg, 2016).
  • First Indian woman Boxer to win an Olympic Medal – MC Mary Kom.
  • First Woman who become an individual member of the International Olympic Committee – Nita Ambani (2016).
  • First Woman to score a double hundred in Test Cricket (in World as well) – Mithali Raj ( 214 against New Zealand at Wellington, 2004).
  • First Woman to win the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) title – Sania Mirza (2005).
  • First Indian Woman to win Gold in Asian Games – Kamaljeet Sandhu (400 m. Race, 1970).
  • First Indian Woman Boxer to win a gold medal in Asian GamesMary Kom (2014).
  • First & Only Woman Boxer who has won a medal in each of the six World Championships Mary Kom.
  • India's first-ever gold medalist in wrestling at the Commonwealth Games in 2010 – Geeta Phogat.
  • First Woman to win Gold Medal on International Track – Hima Das.
  • First Woman to make hat-trick in international football – Yolanda D’Souza.
  • First Woman to win International Grand Master- Chess – Bhagyashree Thipsay.
  • First Indian Woman to to hold The Fédération Internationale des Échecs (FIDE) titles- International Master and Woman Grandmaster – Subbaraman Vijayalakshmi.
    • Youngest Indian woman to become Chess Grandmaster – Koneru Humpy (2002, at the age of 15).
  • First Indian Woman to win a medal at an international athletics competition – Anju Bobby George (Paris, 2003).
  • First Indian Woman to win the Gold medal at Asian Wrestling Championship – Navjot Kaur.
  • First woman to win Gold in World Cup Shooting – Heena Sidhu (2013).
  • India’s first F1 woman racer and national racing champion – Alisha Abdullah.
  • First Indian Woman to participate in WWE – Kavita Dalal.
  • First Women Boxing Referee in India – Rasiya Shabnam.


    • First Miss World from India – Reetha Faria (1966).
    • First Indian woman to win the Miss Universe title – Sushmita Sen (1994).
    • First Miss India – Pramila (Esther Victoria Abraham, 1947).
    • First Indian Woman to win the Miss Asia-Pacific title – Zeenat Aman (1970).
    • First Indian Woman to win the Miss Earth title – Nicol Faria (2010).
    • First Actress of Indian Cinema – Durgabai Kamat (Film 'Mohini Bhasmasur', 1913).
    • First Female child actress of Indian cinema – Kamalabai Gokhale*.
    • First Indian Woman who appeared on Time Magazine cover – Parveen Babi.
    • First Female Actress to be nominated to the Rajya Sabha – Vyjayanthimala.
    • First Female Actress to be a member of Rajya Sabha – Nargis Dutt.
    • First Doordarshan Newsreader – Pratima Puri.
    • First Lady Editor – Kamala Swaminathan (Indian Ladies Magazine).
    • First Woman Editor of an English Newspaper – Dina Vakil.
    • First Indian Woman producer and director – Fatima Begum.
    • First Female Singer to be honored by House Of Commons, British Parliament, United Kingdom – K.S. Chitra.

    📝 SideNotes:

    • Légion d'honneur/Legion of Honour (France) award established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802.
    • The Borlaug Award is an award created in 1972 for outstanding Indian scientists for their research and contributions in the field of agriculture and the environment in honor of Nobel Laureate Norman E. Borlaug.
    • Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize – science award in India given annually by the CSIR for outstanding research in biology, chemistry, environmental science, engineering, mathematics, medicine, and Physics.
    • Tessy Thomas – also known as ‘Missile Woman of India’ and ‘Agniputri’.
    • Test tube baby – Durga is the first test-tube baby and world's second, but media publicity was given to Harsha, being the first test-tube by Dr. Indira Hinduja who was born on 6 August 1986, another claim being Kruti Parekh born 1984.
    • Kamalabai Gokhale – Daughter of Durgabai Kamat, debuted in 1913, film 'Mohini Bhasmasur' directed by Dadasaheb Phalke.
    • Padma Vibhushan recipients (7) of 25 January 2020 – George Fernandes, Arun Jaitley, Anerood Jugnauth, Mary Kom, Chhannulal Mishra, Sushma Swaraj & Vishwesha Teertha.
    • First Indian athlete to win two individual medals at the Olympics – Sushil Kumar (Wrestling: 2012: Silver & 2008: Bronze).