In 2021, even as the world was grappling with the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were many women who gave us hope and inspiration for the future. These women shattered gender norms and stereotypes proving that when you have the will and determination to excel, your gender doesnt matter. Belonging to every field you can imagine, from sports and aerospace to business and social work, these inspiring women also prove that age is just a number and it doesnt have to factor in when you are passionate about the work you do.Join Her Circle in celebrating the achievements of these leaders and pioneers among us as we close 2021 with the dreams and aspirations they have ignited. Here are a few moments that gave us our Her Circle Heroes.Sirisha BandlaIn July 2021, the 34-year-old aeronautical engineer and space tourist was among the six passengers on the Unity 22 spaceflight, a historic featnot only because Virgin Galactic is the worlds first fully crewed suborbital test flight, but also because Bandla, a girl from Andhra Pradesh, is only the second Indian-born woman to reach this far. Bandla wanted to be an astronaut for the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Her poor eyesight meant she could not meet the requirements to become a pilot or an astronaut. She decided to take a different route, which led her to where she is todayTulsi GowdaThe 72-year-old environmentalist from Honnali village, Ankola taluk in Karnataka state made headlines when she received the Padma Shri award in the Rashtrapati Bhavan barefoot.Known as the Encyclopaedia of Forest', she has planted more than 30,000 saplings and looks after the nurseries of the Forest Department. Gowda never went to school since she lost her father at the young age of two. The environmentalist joined her mother in working at a local nursery and was married off before she could reach her teens. Gowdas spirit did not deter and her dedication towards preserving Mother Nature fetched her a permanent job in the forest department.Avani LekharaPara-shooter Avani Lekhara made the country proud by winning not one but two medals at the recently concluded Tokyo 2020 Paralympics. She is the first Indian woman to win a Paralympic gold by claiming the top honours in the 10m air rifle standing SH1 event. For this feat, she also received the Major Dhyan Singh Khel Ratna Award, the highest sports award in the country. Paralysed at 10, this para-shooter didn't let the tragedy hold her down. She took up shooting in 2015 as a hobby after her father took her to a range during one summer vacation.Shobha Bhutada PurushottamThe IPS officer and Bharuch SP has been setting an example, from facing death threats to making sure her message is heard loud and clear, she's an inspiration to all of us. Her speech at an engineering college in Gujarat went viral when she spoke about how a woman's education is precious and should not be wasted on abusive relationships. In her powerful inspiring video, she quoted how education is not just a degree. And, if our education doesnt give us the courage to live with dignity, it is useless.Arundhati BhattacharyaAs an Indian banker, Arundhati Bhattacharya has left an indelible mark on both Indian women in finance and the economy itself. In 2013, she became the first woman to become the Chairperson of the State Bank of India. Her immense contributions in this role, which includes the introduction of a two-year sabbatical leave for SBIs female employees for child or elderly care, have made her one of the most influential Indian women in finance of all time. After her retirement from the SBI in 2017, she has worked as the CEO of Salesforce India and an independent director in Reliance Industries Limited.Sneha DubeyShortly after her speech at the UNGA, #SnehaDubey started trending on Twitter and netizens praised her for her powerful speech. Indias first secretary at the UN created a deserving stir on the internet. Her articulate words and confidence at such a young age are serving as a wonderful inspiration to many across the country. The diplomat is a 2012 batch Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer who completed her schooling from Goa and did her MPhil from the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. Sneha Dubey passed the civil services examination in her very first attempt in the year 2011.Saikhom Mirabai ChanuSaikhom Mirabai Chanu, who began lifting firewood as a child, is now one of India's biggest weightlifting stars. Chanu won Indias first medal at the Tokyo Olympics with a silver in womens 49kg weightlifting. Ranked third in the world, the 26-year-old Indian lifted a total of 202 kgs becoming the first Indian weightlifter to win silver at the Olympics. A native of Manipur's capital city Imphal, the Chanu won her first gold medal in a local weightlifting competition when she was 11 years old.Harleen Kaur DeolCricketer Harleen Kaur Deol's jaw-dropping catch to dismiss Amy Jones in the England vs India Women's 1st T20I match took social media by storm. Harleen is one of the youngest members of the Indian womens cricket team and started playing cricket at the tender age of eight. Despite many expressing surprises at Harleen playing cricket, her parents didnt allow them to become hurdles in her career. It was her grandmother Gurdev Kaurs dream that she be a cricketerDr Padma BandhopadhyayDr Padma Bandhopadhyay is a decorated former flight surgeon. She is also the first woman officer in the Indian Air Force to be promoted to the three-star rank of an Air Marshal. She received the Vashisht Seva Medal (VSM) for her service during the Indo-Pak war of 1971. She was the first woman in Airforce to become a Fellow of the Aerospace Medical Society of India and the first Indian woman to conduct scientific research at the North Pole. She was recently awarded the Padma Shri.Lilly SinghLily Singh became the only woman and only openly LGBTQ person hosting a late-night broadcast television show. The YouTuber and comedian is known for shattering the glass ceiling and representing the South Asian diaspora in the global entertainment industry. On several occasions, Singh has addressed issues like feminism and promoted body positivity through her work.Asma KhanThis Indian-born chef, restaurateur, and cookbook author was the first British chef ever to be featured on the Chef's Table. She found her calling in uplifting immigrant women of colour, and women who would otherwise likely be housewives or house cleaners. She wanted to give these women a platform where the world could celebrate their identity. Asmas restaurant, Darjeeling Express, employs an all-women kitchen. Despite, a successful career, she fought against sexism, racism and opened a new restaurant during the pandemicMahua MoitraThe 47-year-old Lok Sabha MP from Trinamool Congress is well known for her fiery speeches and never-back-down attitude. After getting elected to her parliament seat from the Krishnanagar district in West Bengal in 2019, Moitra has made a deep impact as an Indian woman in politics but has also made a mark with her remarkable sartorial choices. In 2021, she has not only continued to speak out on critical issues in parliament, but has also been appointed the All India Trinamool Congress party state-in-charge of Goa.Rohini IyerStarting her career as a film journalist at the young age of 16, Rohini Iyer today is a known entrepreneur and the owner of Indias leading media management company, Raindrop Media. She is a force to be reckoned with in the entertainment industry. From leading conversations about womens rights and equal pay to creating a safe ecosystem for women entrepreneurs to thrive in, Iyer is doing it all. In 2021, she is starting new global collaborations as well as launching more companies.Guneet MongaThis Indian film producer was not only the force behind the Academy Award-winning documentary, Period. End of Sentence, in 2019, but is also a woman who is actively changing the face of Indian cinema while taking it global. In 2018, she became one of the first Indian producers, ever, to join the Producer branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In 2021, she was conferred with the second-highest French civilian honour, the Chevalier dans IOrdre des Arts et des Lettres (Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters), for her contributions to cinema.C.A Bhavani DeviThis young woman is the first Indian fencer to qualify for the Olympics. Though she did not win a medal at the Tokyo Olympics, losing out in the round of 32 match against Frances Manon Brunet, Bhavani Devi is still inspiring with her fencing ranking of 42 in the world with 37.0 points. Originally from Chennai, Tamil Nadu, Bhavani Devi also holds a degree in Business Administration. She was also the first Indian to win a gold medal at the Senior Commonwealth Fencing Championship in Canberra, 2018.Indian Hockey TeamThe team led by captain Rani Rampal at the Tokyo Olympics this year scripted history by reaching their first-ever Olympics semi-final. Beating the three-time champions, team Australia, by 1-0, the Indian team entered the quarter-finals, where they were defeated by Argentina. The team still had a chance to bag the bronze medal, but Great Britain routed them. And yet, this teams achievements and team spiritincluding their support of teammate Vandana Katariyas family when they faced abuseis inspiring for generations to come.Padma Shri WinnersEach of these women, hailing from different backgrounds and fields, has made a mark and inspired thousands, if not millions, to change their lives for the better.Oinam Bembem Devi (Footballer)Rani Rampal (Captain, Indian Womens Hockey Team)Sarita Joshi (Veteran Actress)PV Sindhu (Badminton Champion Olympian)MC Mary Kom (Boxing Champion Olympian)Matha B. Manjamma Jogathi (Kannada Singer Jogathi Nritya Artist)Dr Sindhutai Sapkal (Social Worker Activist)Dr Niru Kumar (Doctor Gender Diversity Consultant)Bhuri Bai (Tribal Painter)Dr Birubala Rabha (Social Activist)Mouma Das (Table Tennis Champion)Prakash Kaur (Social Activist)Dr Anshu Jamsenpa (Ace Mountaineer)Rangammal (Agriculturist)Shanti Devi (Social Worker)Rahibai Soma Popere (Agriculturist)Dandamudi Sumathi Rama Mohun Rao (Artist)Bijoya Chakravorty (Teacher)Chhutni Mahato (Social Worker)Lakhimi Baruah (Social Worker)Anitha Pauldurai (Basketball Champion)Seema SamridhiA Supreme Court lawyer, Samdridhi is most well-known for being the legal counsel for the 2012 Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case. She is also the legal advisor for the Nirbhaya Jyoti Trust. Brought up in Etawah and educated in Kanpur University, Samridhi also holds a journalism degree and a Masters degree in Political Science. She started her legal practice in the Supreme Court in 2014. Currently, shes also fighting the case for the 19-year-old Hathras rape victim.Vaishali ShadanguleThe founder of the brand Vaishali S in 2001, Shadangule became the first Indian woman designer to showcase her collection at the Paris Haute Couture Week 2021. She represented the evergreen and sustainable beauty of Indian textiles and handloom weaves at the event. The 43-year-old designer from Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh, ran away from home in 1997 to pursue her passion, started out as a gym trainer and was soon able to launch her business with a bank loan. Hers is a true entrepreneurial success story that went global.Bhavina PatelIndia won 19 medals at the Tokyo Paralympics and three of these medals were by extraordinary women. Bhavina Patel won the Silver medal at the Womens Table Tennis Singles. Avani Lekhara won the Bronze medal for the 50m Rifle Shooting and the Gold medal for the 10m Standing Rifle Shooting events. This year also witnessed Prachi Yadav become the first Indian para-canoe athlete to qualify for the Olympics, and Aruna Tanwar became the first Indian Taekwondo athlete to qualify for the event. While Yadav and Tanwar couldnt bag any medals, as pioneers among para-athletes from India, they are no less inspiring.Kamala HarrisKamala Harris was sworn in as the 49th and current Vice President of the United States of America in January 2021. The fact that she is the first woman, and the first woman of African-American and Asian-American origin, to hold this powerful office makes her moment one of the most inspiring for women all over the world this year. She made history on multiple fronts, and has been working to address all the challenges the USA and the world face in the post-pandemic world.